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The Yankee Express

Headlight use in winter months with shortened daylight hours

Dudley Police Department

The fall and winter seasons are difficult times of the year for driving.  The official start of winter is only a few short weeks away. With the clocks set back, it is often dark earlier in the day and the sun is very low in the sky, especially during the morning and afternoon drive times.  One way to add a measure of safety to driving is by using headlights.  I was recently asked to remind drivers of the importance of using headlights when necessary. 

The rules governing headlight use are contained in several sections of the law.  Headlights (as well as taillights) are to be used on a motor vehicle “during the period from one half hour after sunset to one half hour before sunrise, and during any other period when visibility is reduced by atmospheric conditions so as to render dangerous further operation without lights being displayed.”  Chapter 85 Section 15 of the General Laws requires both headlights and taillights to be used when, “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.”  Although it is important to remember to activate lights when the wipers are used, the law covers other times of reduced visibility.  A violation can result in a civil fine. 

It is never a problem to use your headlights, even if it is not “required” at that time. Being seen is important toward crash prevention. Many newer vehicles are equipped with running headlights that are always activated during operation.  While this is good, drivers must remember, if the conditions require compliance with the law, to activate the vehicle taillights as well.  Expanded headlight use, especially at this time of the year, assists drivers to see other vehicles easier when atmospheric conditions are a factor.  By using lights, there is a greater likelihood of your vehicle being noticed sooner.  Your cooperation can result in safer driving habits and a reduction in accidents and injuries. 

During the coronavirus pandemic, we continue to serve the people of Dudley and work with the community to improve the quality of life for everyone.  We continue to ask for everyone’s assistance in following the health safety guidelines and recommendations. This is challenging for everyone and we thank you in advance for your cooperation. I continue to thank the men and women from my department for their continued dedicated service to the Town of Dudley during these trying times. Thanks also go out to the many Police Officers, Fire and Emergency Services members, public works, government and all other “essential” personnel for their continued hard work and service.  We greatly appreciate the support we receive from our community.


Thanks again for your questions and comments.  Please send them to me at the Dudley Police Department 71 West Main St., Dudley, Ma. 01571 or email at [email protected]  Opinions expressed in this weekly column are those of Chief Wojnar only and unless clearly noted, do not reflect the ideas or opinions of any other organization or citizen