ASK A TROOPER: Flashing headlights

Question: Is it illegal to flash my high beams at another driver that is approaching me with their high beams on? When it’s dark, drizzling, raining and or snowing, I see vehicles that don’t have their lights on. Please remind everyone who reads your column to use their lights and remind them that they can be ticketed, right??

Answer: Headlight use or non-use is one of the most common questions/concerns that I receive. You are correct, violations of these laws can result in a citation being issued.

Minnesota state law says that when the driver of a vehicle approaches a vehicle within 1,000 feet, such driver shall use a distribution of light, or composite beam, so aimed that the glaring rays are not projected into the eyes of the oncoming driver. I do understand why drivers would want to temporarily flash their high beams to notify someone that their high beams may be on, but it is illegal.

It is suggested that if you encounter a vehicle approaching you with glaring lights to not look directly at the lights and use the white line along the edge of the road as a reference.

If a vehicle approaches you from behind with high beams on, try not to look directly into your review mirrors. The law that covers this says that the driver of a vehicle following another vehicle within 200 feet to the rear, except when engaged in the act of overtaking and passing, such driver shall use a distribution of light or low beams.

Please pay attention to all your surroundings all of the time while driving and make sure you use your high beams only when other vehicles are not in sight.

I also notice far too many vehicles driving without headlights on and/or no tail lights on when visibility is reduced by weather or darkness.

The state law says that very vehicle upon a highway within this state: at any time from sunset to sunrise; at any time when it is raining, snowing, sleeting, or hailing; and at any other time when visibility is impaired by weather, smoke, fog or other conditions or there is not sufficient light to render clearly discernible persons and vehicles on the highway at a distance of 500 feet ahead; shall display lighted headlamps, lighted tail lamps, and illuminating devices.

Manually turn on your headlights as your vehicle’s automatic lights activation system might not activate during daytime hours when it is raining, snowing or foggy. During the day, it is not all about what you can see, it is about being seen as well.

A portion of state statutes were used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes. If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Sgt. Neil Dickenson – Minnesota State Patrol at 1131 Mesaba Ave, Duluth, MN 55811. (You can follow me on Twitter @MSPPIO_NE or reach me at neil.dickenson@state.mn.us).

Krystal Frasier

Krystal Frasier

Social Media and Digital Content Manager
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