Since mid-December Mother Nature has challenged us with a little bit of all four seasons — sometimes in just a few hours. We’ve seen snow, ice, wind, plenty of rain and fog — all of which affect visibility and make driving conditions pretty horrible.
The lowered visibility brings out an issue we've been complaining about for years. Kentucky needs to enforce the law that requires drivers to turn on their headlights in poor weather conditions. It’s a simple concept: “wipers on” should mean “headlights on.” It’s not so you can see better; it’s so you can be seen by other drivers.
According to a story by a Cleveland television station, only 18 states require headlights to be on whenever the windshield wipers are on. Many of those states surround Kentucky and Indiana, but we dissenters just shrug our collective shoulders and hope that semi driver sees us in time. You should see what a trucker (or a school bus driver) sees in his side mirrors on a dismal, gray, rainy day. You’re risking a serious accident when you pass because your car blends in — unless your headlights are on.
Kentucky’s law tells drivers to turn on their lights during bad weather conditions, but the wording is vague, at best, and we think is subject to interpretation: Drivers must illuminate “… at such times as atmospheric conditions render visibility as low as or lower than is ordinarily the case …” We think specifying that lights should be on anytime wipers are needed covers cases except the obvious: darkness.
In our travels on a Saturday in mid-December, we saw a number of vehicles driving without headlights. The trouble is, when we finally saw them, it could well have been too late. A gray car on a gray highway surrounded by gray fog disappears in the mist. With headlights on, at least there's a fighting chance.
We encourage our state lawmakers to make it unlawful to drive in bad conditions — dark, rainy, foggy, snowy, at dusk and dawn — without headlamps aglow. We need you to help keep us safer on the roads.
It’s although this is not a one-season problem, we have just barely seen winter, so more yucky weather is on the way. Let’s survive it, at least on the roads.