Of windshield wipers and headlights

 

The in basket: Susanne Hughes of East Bremerton writes, “I moved here from a state that requires a driver to turn on his/her headlights whenever the windshield wipers are in use.  I am not familiar with Washington’s laws on this subject and am wondering  when headlights are required to be used in this State.  

“Also, does Washington ever use headlight test areas for safety?” she asked.

The out basket: No state law specifically requires headlights when the wipers are on. The law that covers this says, “Every vehicle upon a highway within this state at any time from a half hour after sunset to a half hour before sunrise and at any other time when, due to insufficient light or unfavorable atmospheric conditions, persons and vehicles on the highway are not clearly discernible at a distance of one thousand feet ahead shall display lighted headlights…”

I asked Krista Hedstrom of the Bremerton state patrol office if citations are written for violating that law when rain, snow or fog cut visibility and she said, “Yes, troopers do regularly stop drivers for this, and have written tickets for this violation during extreme weather conditions if they are not visible at a distance of 1,000 feet. The penalty is $124.  

“Depending on the situation, a verbal warning may be given and the driver asked to turn on their lights,” she said. “Other times a ticket may be issued if (the violation) causes a collision or near miss.”  

As for stretches of highway where headlight use for safety reasons is encouraged by signs along the roadside, they do exist in this state. Lisa Copeland of the Olympic Region of state highways says there is one just across the Kitsap/Pierce County line on Highway 302 just past the Purdy spit

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