New Wisconsin Law – Headlight Visibility Law
NEW LAW (Relevant Today): The headlight visibility law (effective 2/16) requires drivers to turn on their headlights when weather conditions “limit visibility.” Limited visibility means any time that weather conditions limit visibility such that objects are not clearly visible 500 feet from the vehicle. In other words, turn your lights on in heavy rain, snow and fog.
Governor Scott Walker signed into law a bill that requires drivers to turn on headlights when weather conditions limit visibility. Under the previous law, if it was dark outside, drivers were required to activate their headlights. Now if it’s raining, snowing, foggy or if there’s any condition that limits visibility and prevents you from seeing 500 feet in front of your vehicle, drivers must turn on their headlights.
The language, added by statute, defines the type of weather conditions: 340.01 (43d) “Period of limited visibility” means any time that weather conditions limit visibility such that objects on a highway are not clearly discernible at 500 feet from the front of a vehicle.
In the past five years, more than 300 people in Wisconsin have been injured in crashes where drivers didn’t have their headlights turned on, according to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. In Northeast Wisconsin, 47 people were injured and three people died.
“It’s important to be visible, not only visible for you to illuminate something in front of you to see so you don’t strike it, but also for oncoming traffic to see you,” Sgt. Bill Berger of the Wisconsin state Troopers said. “And it’s especially important in heavy rain, snow and dense fog.”
For the next six months, officers will only issue warnings, but after that a ticket could cost $160. Wisconsin is one of the final states to enact a headlights law that is specific to adverse weather or reduced visibility. According to AAA, Hawaii and Kentucky are the only other states without specific laws.