Why More Vehicles Drive With Lights off at Night
You may have noticed a recent increase in the number of drivers traveling without their headlights on at night. In the past this dangerous phenomenon was rarely seen on the roads. The reason it has become more common recently is lighted gauge clusters.
In vehicles of the past, instrument panels (or gauge clusters) were dark until you turned the headlights on. It was only necessary for instrument panels to be lit at night, and the dark panels reminded drivers of their headlights. In most modern vehicles, gauge clusters stay lit all the time, day or night, whether the headlights are on or off. In well-lit urban areas, drivers can see where they are going at night, and there is no dark instrument panel to remind them to turn their lights on.
LED running lights in newer model vehicles are another reason why drivers forget to turn on their headlights. They are always on and they serve to illuminate the road somewhat. When a driver enters a vehicle at night, the gauge cluster is lit (as though the headlights were on), the running lights are illuminating the road, and it simply does not occur to some drivers that their headlights are off.
When Should You Have Your Lights On in Nebraska?
The rule of the road is to use your headlights from sunset to sunrise. This is covered under Nebraska Revised Statute 60-6,219. In addition to nighttime hours, the law states that headlights and taillights are required “any other time when there is not sufficient light to render clearly discernible persons or vehicles upon the highway at a distance of five hundred feet ahead. . .” It is unlawful to operate a vehicle on Nebraska roads otherwise, and you can get a ticket for forgetting to turn your headlights on at night or when otherwise required.
Drivers must always turn their lights on at night, under the law, but other driving situations may also call for headlights, for example:
- When it is raining or snowing hard enough that you need to use your windshield wipers, you should also turn your lights on.
- If you are having difficulty spotting other vehicles, for example on a mountain road, turn your headlights on to make it easier for other drivers to see you.
If you need to use your high beams because the road is dark, or for any other reason, dim them when a vehicle is approaching from the opposite direction and when you are 200 feet or less behind another vehicle traveling in the same direction. High beams could blind another driver and cause a collision.
How Is Liability Affected by Failure to Have Your Lights On?
Drivers have a duty of care to other motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians sharing the road. This duty includes knowing and following all traffic laws and operating the vehicle in the same manner a reasonable person would to keep others safe. Driving with your headlights off after dark is violating Nebraska traffic laws. It makes your vehicle more difficult to see and puts others on the road at risk of a crash. A driver who was involved in an accident while driving without headlights could be held liable for resulting injuries.
If you have been injured by a driver who was driving without headlights, you may have a claim for compensation for your injuries. Damages you may be eligible to claim may include medical expenses, lost earnings, pain and suffering, and other losses.
Contact an Omaha auto accident lawyer at Bottlinger Law L.L.C. at (402) 505-8234 to schedule a free consultation. We can tell you if you have a case and what damages you may be entitled to claim.
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