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New Law Regarding Use of Headlights

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The Legislature has passed a new law that would require drivers to turn on their headlights whenever they turn on their windshield wipers. The new law, M.G.L. c. 85, § 15 takes effect on April 7, 2015. Below is the wording of the new section of the law: 


A vehicle, whether stationary or in motion, on a public way, shall have attached to it headlights and taillights which shall be turned on by the vehicle operator and so displayed as to be visible from the front and rear during the period of 1/2 hour after sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise; provided, however, that such headlights and taillights shall be turned on by the vehicle operator at all other times when, due to insufficient light or unfavorable atmospheric conditions, visibility is reduced such that persons or vehicles on the roadway are not clearly discernible at a distance of 500 feet or when the vehicle’s windshield wipers are needed; provided further, that this section shall not apply to a vehicle which is designed to be propelled by hand; and provided further, that a vehicle carrying hay or straw for the purpose of transporting persons on a hayride shall display only electrically operated lights which shall be 2 flashing amber lights to the front and 2 flashing red lights to the rear, each of which shall be at least 6 inches in diameter and mounted 6 feet from the ground. 

As a result, the list of surchargeable incidents has been amended by adding two new requirements effective April 7, 2015.

  1. Motorists are now required to turn on headlights and tail lights whenever the windshield wipers are on.
  2. Motorists are also required to turn on headlights and tail lights when visibility is reduced so that persons or vehicles are not visible at 500 feet due to insufficient light or unfavorable atmospheric conditions. 

The requirement to turn on headlights and taillights 1/2 hour after sunset and 1/2 hour before sunrise has not changed.