On April 7, 2015, a new law requiring headlight usage during certain times became effective. The law, which you can read here, requires headlight use one-half hour before sunrise and one-half hour after sunset, and usage when windshield wipers are being used. Though a violation of this law may only cost a driver a $5 fine, violations will be considered minor motor vehicle offenses, which may affect insurance premiums.
The Headlight Law
Though the new law has only been effective for a few weeks, it already been met with sizeable criticism from lawmakers. Boston.com reports that insurance costs will rise as a result of this new legislation and also alleges that the bill was signed without the opportunity for debate or discussion. The former governor signed the bill into law after it passed in the Massachusetts House and Senate, but it was allegedly signed during an “informal session” without further discussion.
The Safety Concerns
Regardless of the criticism, the new law is in full effect. Local officers are required to enforce the law. Though many states require low-beam headlight use (opposed to regular automatic daytime running lights that are standard features on nearly all vehicles) before dusk and after dawn, the headlights-windshield wipers dichotomy is a new one. However, studies indicate that daytime running lights reduced crashes in 2010 by 5-10%, reduced bike and pedestrian accidents by 12%, and eliminated 23% of head-on motorcycle crashes. This is likely due to the fact that even in daytime hours, it can be difficult to see oncoming traffic, especially for vehicles of certain colors (white, grey, silver). Using headlights is a simple safety feature that will allow oncoming traffic to more easily identify your presence and ensure that you can see ahead of you more clearly when driving in adverse conditions.
This new law is particularly timely as we approach our rainy, spring season. Headlight safety is important regardless of the implementation of this new law, which is why other jurisdictions have similar requirements in place. Auto accidents can be avoided when you are cognizant of what is in front of you and when other drivers are aware of your presence on the road. It is also worth pointing out that the law is applicable to drivers regardless of whether the car is stationary or in motion. Even if you pull over to make a phone call, it is critical to ensure that your lights are on so that you are visible to oncoming traffic, particularly if it is raining or if other adverse conditions are present.
Boston Auto Accident Attorneys
This new legislation aims to reduce accidents, particularly in adverse weather conditions and at night. Regardless of your compliance with the law, accidents can and do happen. If you or anyone you know has been injured or killed in an auto accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for your losses, including medical bills, property damage, pain and suffering, and wage loss from being away from work. If you think you may have a legal claim, our experienced auto accident litigation attorneys at John J. Sheehan’s office can help you understand your legal options. Contact our Boston office to begin learning more about your rights today.