The headlights on our vehicles serve to light our way along our travels. They’re positioned to help us see where we are going and what’s in our path. They illuminate the darkness and pierce the veil of shadow. They provide safety and protection as the days get shorter. But, what else do they do? What other important function do our vehicle’s headlights serve? They let others see us.

Not only do we need to see, but we need to be seen. If you are driving a Hi-Vis yellow colored car, with reflective striping, you will probably be seen better than most. If you are driving a black or grey car, that could use a bath, then you will probably blend into your surroundings. Great idea if you are a Bigfoot – not so much for the daily commuter. 

When the weather starts to get bad or the fog rolls in, using your headlights could mean the difference between arriving safely or not at all. Your headlights may not be needed to help you see, but they will let that driver, who is about to pull out in front of you, see that you are there!

What does the state of Tennessee say about the use of vehicle lighting?

TCA 55-9-406. Headlights on motor vehicles Operation during inclement weather.

(a)  The headlights of every motor vehicle shall be so constructed, equipped, arranged, focused, aimed, and adjusted, that they will at all times mentioned in § 55-9-401, and under normal atmospheric conditions and on a level road produce a driving light sufficient to render clearly discernible a person two hundred feet (200ft) ahead, but shall not project a glaring or dazzling light to persons in front of the headlights. The headlights shall be displayed during the period from one half (½) hour after sunset to one half (½) hour before sunrise, during fog, smoke, or rain and at all other times when there is not sufficient light to render clearly discernible any person on the road at a distance of two hundred feet (200ft) ahead of the vehicle.

(b)  (1)  Operation of headlights during periods of rain, as required in this section, shall be made during any time when rain, mist, or other precipitation, including snow, necessitates the constant use of windshield wipers by motorists.

So, that means to turn on your headlights 30 minutes before and after the sun comes or goes and when the weather is less than ideal for seeing and being seen. Simple enough. It is a statistical fact that the more often driver’s use their headlights, as prescribed by law, the less often we have to use our fancy blue lights to enforce that law.

Let’s all try to use a little bit of common sense and help keep every car on the road driving safely. Who knows, the life you save could be your own. Hope to see you soon.