Montana Drivers You Might Be Forgetting to Do This
Recently, Missoula experienced what felt like a week straight of heavy fog every morning. This is common in the winter because our area is prone to temperature inversions.
Driving around one morning I saw about five cars without their headlights on. I flew into a Karen-like rage in the privacy of my vehicle. Then I wondered, do you have to have your headlights on for fog? Is it like, a law?
Montana Code Addresses "Lamps" on Vehicles
I’m no lawyer, but my initial search took me to code 61-9-217 which talks about the placement of various kinds of “lamps” on a motor vehicle. If you get your kicks reading legalese, you can see exactly what it says right here.
But what this headlight question really involves is traffic violations, and montanastaterecords.org has a handy explanation of what constitutes a traffic violation on their site.
Montana Code "When Lighted Lamps Are Required"
Down the internet rabbit hole I went. I eventually found code 61-9-201 “When Lighted Lamps Are Required.” In a much more formal way, it says basically what this Facebook post from 2015 says:
They don't mention it in the Facebook post, but another time that drivers in Montana should probably use their headlights is if you're in a wildfire smoke zone. Driving through smoke can be just as difficult as driving through fog.
So then the question is, well, how far is 500 feet? About 1-2 city blocks, depending on how you measure a block.
But here’s the kicker. That code says “highway.” So I'll just say this.
On the morning I was driving in fog, I couldn’t see halfway down the block, and the white vehicle and grey vehicles—without their headlights on—seemed to appear out of nowhere. Were we going to hit each other? Maybe not. Would headlights have helped? Yes.
If it’s foggy, or smoky, or rainy or whatever, maybe just help a fellow driver out. Please remember to turn on your headlights.