Ask a Trooper: Fog lights blinding drivers

By KBJR News 1

Ask a Trooper: Fog lights blinding drivers

October 21, 2013 Updated Oct 21, 2013 at 10:48 AM CST

Question: Can you give out information about fog lights? I notice a lot of people have them on and when I am meeting them on the road in the evening or at night, some are very bright and make seeing the road very difficult. Some of them appear to be out of alignment and are blinding. I hope that having people read this will help make a difference, thanks.

Answer: I have been asked this a lot lately for some reason. There are some specific requirements for those lights, but if the fog lights are aimed too high and/or are too bright then they are not legal just for that reason, even if they are in compliance with the rest of the law. All lights for vehicles have to be approved by the Commissioner of Public Safety and they have to be allowed (or required) by statute.

M.S.S. 169.56 S 2 says, “Any motor vehicle may be equipped with not to exceed two fog lamps mounted on the front at a height not less than 12 inches nor more than 30 inches above the level surface upon which the vehicle stands and so aimed that when the vehicle is not loaded none of the high-intensity portion of the light to the left of the center of the vehicle shall at a distance of 25 feet ahead project higher than a level of four inches below the level of the center of the lamp from which it comes. Lighted fog lamps meeting the above requirements may be used with lower headlamp beams…..”

Another relevant law is M.S.S. 169.63(b), which also tells us that, “When a motor vehicle equipped with headlamps, as (herein) required, is also equipped with any auxiliary lamps, spot lamps or any other lamps on the front thereof projecting a beam of intensity greater than 300-candle power, not more than a total of four of any such lamps on the front of a vehicle shall be lighted at any one time when upon a highway.”

Also, some of the lights you are seeing might actually be "daytime running lights". Many of those are on automatically and are installed by the manufacturer. The driver may not always have the ability to turn them off. They cannot be used in lieu of headlights, but sometimes they are, which would be a violation. It is best practice to keep your lights on at all times on the road to make yourself more visible to other drivers. It’s the law to have head lights (and tail lights) on during rain – something we’ll be seeing more of in the springtime. I hope some of this information helps. Minnesota State Statutes are copyrighted, and portions of the state statutes were used with permission of the Office of the Revisor of Statutes.