Know when to keep your headlights on

  • Published
  • By Eric T. Hoehn
  • 88th Air Base Wing Safety Office

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Oh -- An important legal principle tells us “ignorance of the law is no excuse.” And that’s right: You can’t defend your actions by arguing you didn’t know they were illegal, even if you honestly didn’t realize you were breaking the law.

The Ohio Revised Code’s Section 4513.03 reads, in part: Every vehicle, other than a motorized bicycle, operated upon a street or highway within this state shall display lighted lights and illuminating devices during all of the following times:

* From sunset to sunrise.

* When people, vehicles and substantial objects on the highway are not discernible at a distance of 1,000 feet ahead — due to insufficient natural light or unfavorable atmospheric conditions.

* When your vehicle’s windshield wipers are in use because of precipitation.

No motor vehicle, during any time specified above, shall be operated on a street or highway in Ohio using only parking lights as illumination.

Safe vehicle operation is challenging under the best of circumstances. Critical considerations include:

* Dedicated situational awareness at all times — During the school year, children represent a significant pedestrian-safety issue that demands heightened attention by all.

* Avoiding performance-eroding factors such as fatigue and use of alcohol or drugs (to include over-the-counter products) with side effects that could decrease perception or reaction.

* Compensation for roadway conditions — Keep in mind that speed limits are calculated for pristine surfaces. Speed must be adjusted whenever conditions deteriorate.

* Maintaining vehicle systems as the manufacturer intended — Even the most gifted driver’s ability is questionable if the vehicle can’t respond to routine maneuvers and input.

Making your vehicle visually conspicuous while enhancing the ability to see hazards in time to react benefits you, your passengers and others on the road. This is especially true when precipitation has a negative impact on braking distances.

For more information about safe driving and headlights, contact the 88th Air Base Wing’s Safety Office at 937-904-0888. Be safe out there.