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MailTribune.com
  • Headlights a bright idea for drivers in the smoke

  • With all this smoke in the Rogue Valley, I'm surprised that I haven't heard about an increase in car accidents because of the visibility problems. I know the police require you to turn on your headlights at dusk and in the fog, but what about smoky conditions?
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  • With all this smoke in the Rogue Valley, I'm surprised that I haven't heard about an increase in car accidents because of the visibility problems. I know the police require you to turn on your headlights at dusk and in the fog, but what about smoky conditions?
    Are headlights required while driving through this smoke? Will I get a ticket if I forget to turn on my headlights and a police officer spots me?
    — Kris D., Medford
    You're probably not going to get a ticket for driving without your headlights during the daytime in the smoke, but it's a good idea if you would turn them on, according to Medford police Sgt. Kim Budreau.
    "I haven't heard of us ticketing anyone since the smoke came in," Budreau said. "So, I would say that we aren't out there looking for anyone who doesn't have their headlights on."
    However, Budreau said the department recommends driving with your headlights on during the day as long as the smoke hangs around.
    Oregon law requires a driver to turn on their headlights at any time of "limited visibility," such as dusk, heavy fog or conditions that affect visibility.
    If the smoke becomes thick enough, it would be like driving through dense fog, Budreau said.
    "The smoke is thick enough that it's setting off smoke alarms, so it's almost like fog," she said.
    It is unclear whether Oregon's traffic laws specifically mention smoke, but it's common sense to make yourself as visible as possible when your area is surrounded by forest fires and the smoke comes seeping in.
    Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering them all.
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