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Van De Wege pushing for cars to leave headlights on during the day

OLYMPIA — State Rep. Kevin Van De Wege believes that if everyone were to keep the headlights of the vehicles on, even during the day, it very well could reduce the amount of collisions.

Van De Wege, D-Sequim, told the House Transportation Committee on Monday that the idea was posed to him by a number of constituents. But he said he’s been having trouble finding a legal way to mandate that residents click their headlights on. One suggestion was to mandate that if the wiper blades are on, then the headlights should be on, too.

But officials with the State Patrol were worried about that idea, Van De Wege said.

“If you wash windows does that mean you have to have your headlights on?” Van De Wege mused. “And it makes it harder to enforce.”

The idea, instead, is to mandate that drivers turn on their headlights more often. Current law requires drivers on highways to turn on their lights at any time when “atmospheric conditions, persons and vehicles on the highway are not clearly discernible at a distance of 1,000 feet,” according to legislation spearheaded by Van De Wege.

Van De Wege’s proposed legislation doubles the distance when items are not clearly discernible to 2,000 feet, effectively requiring that headlights be turned on more often on the highway.

Headlights “cannot illuminate 2,000 feet but can be seen by 2,000 feet,” Van De Wege said, when quizzed on the effectiveness of his new mandate by legislators of the committee.

“That’s about a half mile,” Van De Wege said. “We’d encourage people to turn on their headlights more. It’s more about encouragement. Hopefully, we’d get a lot of publicity about this. Places that have higher headlight use have lower collisions.”

A statement by the Washington State Patrol finds that there wouldn’t be any additional cost if the legislation moves forward. Troopers would be unlikely to just issue citations to people, who don’t manage to follow the law. But, rather, would tack the citation on if a driver is speeding or another traffic infraction is at stake, a House report said.

The Legislation is House Bill 2256.