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Shining a Light on Headlight and Hazard Light Laws in NC

cars driving in the rain

When we’re about to drive at night, one of our very first thoughts is to turn on our headlights. But while we know that we need to utilize these lights to be able to drive in the dark, there are other times that we are mandated to use them as well. Here is what you need to know about using your headlights when driving in North Carolina.

Poor Visibility or Bad Weather Mandates Headlights

Did you know that it’s actually mandatory to turn on your headlights whenever you turn on your windshield wipers? In the state of North Carolina, it is not legal to use your windshield wipers without turning your headlights on. This means that even when visibility isn’t terrible, if you turn on your windshield wipers when it’s raining, you must turn on your lights.

Under North Carolina law, “Motorists are required to use their headlights from sunset to sunrise and when light conditions restrict visibility to 400 feet or less… motorists are also required to use headlights while operating windshield wipers during inclement weather.”

When Should I Use My Hazard Lights?

Sometimes, when the rain is torrential, you may see other drivers driving very slowly with their hazard lights turned on. But is that legal? According to the AAA, approximately half of all U.S. states make it illegal to drive anywhere with your hazard lights on. North Carolina is not one of them. Nowhere in NC DOT’s Safety Guidelines does it say that you are not permitted to do so.

However, it is important to ask yourself if your particular situation truly warrants the use of hazard lights. Sometimes it may be better just to utilize your headlights and wipers, reduce speed, stay to the right, and leave more distance between you and the car in front of you.

Could Headlight Usage Laws Change? 

According to recent studies, it has been shown that by simply turning on your headlights whenever you drive, you may reduce your odds of being involved in an accident. Studies have shown that headlight use during the daytime can reduce the number of accidents by up to 10 percent. Daytime headlight usage has helped to reduce the number of two-vehicle crashes by 5% and pedestrian accidents by 12%. It has also had a drastic effect on head-on motorcycle accidents, reducing the number of accidents by 23%.

More vehicle manufacturers are now incorporating daylight running lights into their new models. However, since it will take a long time to phase out all vehicles that do not have daytime headlights (currently only 27 percent of all vehicles have them), it may be easiest to encourage the use of headlights all day and night by implementing a new law mandating it. 

An Experienced North Carolina Auto Accident Attorney Can Help

If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident due to the negligence or recklessness of another person, the experienced Auto Accident Attorneys at Daggett Shuler can help. Call us at 336-724-1234 today!


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Willie Moore