4 Replies to “Ask the Edmonds Cop: Rules about headlight use”

  1. Interesting topic. I once stopped at City Hall and asked a policeman why they don’t routinely drive with headlights on. His response was totally non-commital. I understand from personal experience that when police don’t want to be seen obviously they don’t use headlights when otherwise they would. But the facts are indisputable; headlights are lifesavers. Also, I’ve always believed that if you need windshield wipers you also need headlights. Finally, once you pass Sunshine Point inside the Nisqually Entrance at Mount Rainier National Park you may have noticed a sign that says “Headlights On For Safety.” I had that sign installed in 1981 in recognition of the fact that driving in and out of bright sunlight can be extremely hazardous. Many of the locations Officer Hawlwy noted with these signs are on winding roads through densely forested areas. The split second it takes for your eyes to adjust to the darker conditions could be disastrous. Thanks for covering this subject.


  2. so . . .

    how far is 300′, 500′ 1000′???

    most of my life a “safe distance” between me and the car ahead was based on “car length” – what is a “car length”???

    i was glad several years back when i learned that has been changed to just counting seconds between the person in front and myself

    high beams good, i’m 301′ behind the car in front…

    i would appreciate an answer – thanx!


    1. Hi Victor,

      Not sure if you are a football fan or not, but 300′ is the length of a football field. If you’ve ever been to a game or watched on TV, that a pretty long way. Especially when we talk about cars moving around on the roads in a city environment.

      I think something to consider is that there are street lights all over the place which help visibility on our roadways. I worked graveyard patrol for many years. I can barely think of a time when I found a need to even use my high beams. The only time I find them useful is when I am on a road or highway without any street lights and traveling at higher speeds. (I was traveling over Stevens Pass last week and turned them on because it was dark and the road is curvy).

      Most of the times in the city, you are going to be much closer than 300′ behind another vehicle, unless it is 2am in the middle of the week.

      As to your other point about “following distance”, the further back the better. Distance = Safety when it comes to motor vehicle use. We see this all the time, and find people have a false sense of security in their ability to react when the person in front has to stop quickly. Following distance needs to increase with speed. You need to be further back from the car in front of you on HWY 99 than you might on a 25 MPH residential street.


  3. Great topic!
    So, if it’s after dark and someone is coming towards you without their headlights on, what should we do?
    I was taught to drive with my headlights on no matter the time of day. The only time I use the high beams is when conditions warrant it.


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