Headlight law amended to require use of beams

Friday, September 3, 2004

Everyone knows when they are supposed to use their headlights, right? Not if they aren't aware of a recent amendment to Missouri's laws on the matter.

Signed into law by Gov. Bob Holden earlier this year, the new headlight law joined a host of other pieces of legislation going into effect Saturday.

Tucked away in Section 307.020 of Missouri's revised statutes is the definition of when headlights are required. Under the amendment, this now includes any time from a half-hour after sunset to a half-hour before sunrise and at any other time when there is not sufficient light to render clearly discernible persons and vehicles on the highway at a distance of 500 feet ahead.

Missouri law also requires drivers to turn their headlights on any time the weather conditions require using their vehicle's windshield wipers to operate the vehicle in a "careful and prudent manner." This provision is also being interpreted to mean headlights should be used when driving through fog, even if it isn't necessary to use windshield wipers.

Col. Roger D. Stottlemyre, superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, said in addition to using their headlights, motorists should also slow down when these same weather conditions exist and always buckle their seat belt when driving or riding in a vehicle.

"It is always better to be seen than to be in a traffic crash," he said. "Laws such as this are enacted to promote safety on the highways for the motoring public."

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