Put on Your Wipers, Put on Your Lights
New MA Law Goes into effect Apr. 7
By Cyndy Bremer
The next time it begins to rain while you’re driving and you reach for your windshield wipers, be sure to turn on your headlights, too. If you don’t, as of April 7, you could be pulled over by the police.
This is just one of several changes related to headlight use in a new law passed by the Massachusetts legislature in December and approved in early January. The law requires drivers to turn on their car’s lights when conditions require the use of windshield wipers. It specifies that both headlights and taillights must be in use. Daytime running lights alone are not acceptable.
While a ticket for the offense carries a minimal fine, violating the law is surchargeable and can increase your annual insurance premiums. Headlights and taillights must also be used during the time frame of a half-hour after sunset through a half-hour before sunrise. The law also requires drivers to use their headlights whenever visibility is less than 500 feet.
The exact text of the law states: “Section 15 of chapter 85 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2012 Official Edition, is hereby amended by striking out the first sentence and inserting in place thereof the following sentence:— 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 turned on 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.”