“I have a question about the new law that requires turning on your vehicle lights when your windshield wipers are on. Are my daytime running lights sufficient or do I need to actually turn on my car’s headlights?” While the Newton Falls Public Library staff is unable to give legal advice, we can find out what the law states. The article, Driving in the rain? Turn on your lights in the Vindicator on July 28, 2009 [p.B2], says that the new state law went in to effect on July 1, 2009. It is a secondary enforcement matter; you can be issued a citation for not turning on your lights when you are pulled over for another infraction. The article said nothing about daytime running lights.
The library staff went online to look at the Digest of Ohio Motor Vehicle Laws [http://publicsafety.ohio.gov/links/hsy7607.pdf]. In the section on Driving in Special Conditions it says “Lights must be displayed between sunset and sunrise and during any periods of rain, snow, fog or other unfavorable atmospheric conditions regardless of the time of day. Lights also need to be used at any time when natural light conditions do not make it possible to clearly see objects 1,000 feet ahead [p. 62 & 64].” That still didn’t exactly answer the patron’s question.
We next contacted the Newton Falls Police Department. They informed us that the daytime running lights are not sufficient, and drivers MUST turn on their headlights. If the vehicle has headlights that come on automatically when natural light dims, it sounds as if drivers should err on the side of caution and make sure that their headlights have turned on.