Most drivers remember to turn on their vehicle's headlights at dusk, but some folks forget headlights also are required when windshield wipers are flapping.

It's been nearly 10 years since the law was approved by the Ohio General Assembly, but Kurt A. Looper said the message doesn't seem to have gotten across to lots of drivers.

Were you aware of Ohio's laws about headlights being required any time windshield wipers are on? (Read more about this in our story here:

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The semiretired Northland resident sees this as a safety measure that's falling through the cracks.

"It was my impression that it had always been the law and, therefore, I had been sort of awestruck by the number of people who will drive around with the windshield wipers on, cloudy skies, darkness, and yet they don't turn on their lights," Looper said. "I kept thinking maybe Columbus is a point where a lot of people who are attracted to the university are coming into Ohio and maybe they don't have that law or custom where they're arriving from."

According to the AAA Digest of Motor Laws, Ohio is one of 19 states requiring headlights be turned on when the wipers are in use.

The other states are Alabama, Arkansas, California (only if in continuous use), Delaware, Illinois, Kansas (also continuous use), Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri ("any time the weather conditions require usage of the motor vehicle's windshield wipers to operate the vehicle in a careful and prudent manner, including in fog"), New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Virginia.

The complete list of headlight laws is available at

Ohio's headlight law is a secondary offense, meaning motorists can't be pulled over and cited for failing to comply. Instead, they can be issued citations if stopped for another violation.

Requiring headlights when it's raining or snowing, even in daytime, simply makes sense, said Sgt. Cliffton Dowell of the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

"They allow you, the driver, to see better in inclement weather, in rain and snow," he said. "It also makes you more visible to other drivers during inclement weather.

"With your headlights on, you're going to be able to see better through your windshield and allow you to see farther ahead. It should significantly decrease the chances of you being involved in a crash."

Although the wiper-headlights law might seem like a no-brainer now, getting it passed wasn't easy.

State Rep. William J. Healy (D-Canton) sponsored such a law in 1993, according to The Columbus Dispatch archives.

"I'm not interested in trying to find another reason to fine or arrest motorists," Healy was quoted as saying in the March 11 edition of the Dispatch that year. "I think we just want to try to establish with the motoring public some good safety habits."

Healy tried again in 1995.

"This is just a measure that can help save some lives," he told the Dispatch for the June 8, 1995, edition.

It was not until July 1, 2009, that the headlights-wiper law went into effect, and there was a one-year grace period before tickets could be issued to violators.

"It's a violation that we try to enforce, but there are times when we will also educate the public," Dowell said. "We may stop someone and we educate them. There are some people who are not aware of the law."

"Boy, I have been amazed at the number of people who don't seem to get it," Looper said. "In fact, I'm in the habit, presuming to be courteous, of flashing my lights to remind people to turn on their lights, and they just don't seem to get it."