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Turn Them On, Patrol Urges

January 30, 1996
By: Pablo Hernandez
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri's Highway Patrol wants you to "turn them on" in the day - auto headlights, that is, in bad weather.

The patrol was one of several groups that came before the House Motor Vehicle Committee to endorse legislation that would require drivers to turn on their headlights anytime the weather is bad enough for them to use their windshield wipers.

Current law requires headlights only at night.

The Patrol and the Missouri Motorist Association cited safety as one of the main reasons for sponsoring the proposals.

The use of the headlights when the wipers are required will allow the driver to see oncoming vehicles easier.

Rep. Sandy Kauffman, R-Kansas City and sponsor of one of the bills, said that tests with light measurers demonstrate that the amount of light drops dramatically in cloudy weather.

One issue before the committee is severity of the penalty to impose for violation of the bad-weather headlight requirement. Neither of the bills before the committee provides a penalty.

Bill sponsors and some supporters of the bill proposed making violation an infraction - the lowest penalty possible. But Highway Patrol representatives suggested it be made a misdemeanor - allowing the police to arrest the driver.

One committee member suggested an amendment that would require manufacturers to connect the windshield wipers and the lights - so the lights automatically would be turned on when the wipers were used.

The committee took no action on the bill.