The Massachusetts Legislature has passed a new law effective April 7, 2015 that requires drivers to turn on their headlights and taillights whenever they turn on their windshield wipers. It also requires drivers to turn on headlights when visibility is less than 500 feet. This change creates ticketable and surchargeable offenses that would result in an increase of your insurance premium.
With many newer vehicles having headlight settings that automatically turn lights on and off. Many drivers don't give as much thought to whether their headlights are on or not during the day. Some newer vehicles also have automatic windshield wipers, so even the decision to use wipers has become passive.
On a bright day where there are showers, it's possible that you might use your windshield wipers and not think about if lights are on or off especially if you have automatic lights. This could result in a situation where you're now driving in violation of the new law. So, drivers will now have to give more proactive thought to if both wipers and lights are on.
Be sure to let your lights shine when it's rainy or foggy.
The wording of the new section of the law, M.G.L. c. 85, § 15 is as follows:
A vehicle, whether stationary or in motion, on a public way, shall have attached to it headlights and taillights which shall be turned on by the vehicle operator and so displayed as to be visible from the front and rear during the period of 1/2 hour after sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise; provided, however, that such headlights and taillights shall be turnedon by the vehicle operator at all other times when, due to insufficient light or unfavorable atmospheric conditions, visibility is reduced such that persons or vehicles on the roadway are not clearly discernible at a distance of 500 feet or when the vehicle’s windshield wipers are needed; provided further, that this section shall not apply to a vehicle which is designed to be propelled by hand; and provided further, that a vehicle carrying hay or straw for the purpose of transporting persons on a hayride shall display only electrically operated lights which shall be 2 flashing amber lights to the front and 2 flashing red lights to the rear, each of which shall be at least 6 inches in diameter and mounted 6 feet from the ground.
As a result, the list of surchargeable incidents has been amended by adding two new requirements effective April 7, 2015.
- Motorists are now required to turn on headlights and taillights whenever the windshield wipers are on.
- Motorists are also required to turn on headlights and taillights when visibility is reduced so that persons or vehicles
are not visible at 500 feet due to insufficient light or unfavorable atmospheric conditions.
The requirement to turn on headlights and taillights 1/2 hour after sunset and 1/2 hour before sunrise has not changed.