Traffic Safety Corner: High Beams could mean High “Fees”

March 4, 2014

By Sergeant Brian Schnell

If you are anything like me, oncoming motorists that insist on driving with their high beam head lights on is seriously annoying.  More than an #76 high beam illustrationannoyance, this is actually against the law (Florida State Statute 316.238) and carries a hefty $179.00 fine as a “Moving Infraction”.  In addition to the fine, points may be assessed to you license which could increase your insurance rates.  But why the big deal for such a “petty infraction” right?  Wrong!  This statute was enacted for the sole purpose of SAFETY.  High beam headlights, from oncoming traffic, or rear approaching traffic virtually blinds fellow motorists.

Low beam headlights on a vehicle are designed to allow motorists to traverse safely at night while illuminating the roadway just enough to see your surroundings.  High beam headlights are designed to be used in severely dark situations, like rural unlit roads, where other vehicular traffic is sparse and hazards like wildlife exists.  In those circumstances, using your high beams to see is not an issue.  Even then, one must reduce high beams to the regular low beam level if and when a vehicle approaches.   Clearly, roadways in Sunny Isles Beach do not fall into those categories.

Most motorists do not even realize how hazardous it is to drive with their high beam headlights on.  Look at the illustration.  Car “B” has his high beam headlights on.  As you can see the pedestrians in the crosswalk are virtually invisible to car “C”.  If car “C” is traveling at 35 miles per hour, there will be little to no chance of stopping in time to avoid colliding with one or more pedestrians.

Numerous vehicles travel down Collins Avenue at night with their high beam headlights on with no regards whatsoever for their fellow motorists.  In several cases, the drivers, once stopped for the infraction, have no idea how to turn their high beam headlights off.  Some do not even know that they have their headlights on.  Every vehicle produces a “blue colored” headlight image on their dashboard when the vehicle’s high beam headlights are on.  The control for most vehicles high beam headlights is on the turn signal switch.  The turn signal arm pivots forward and back to turn the high beams on and off.

If your blue head light indicator is ON then your high beam headlights ARE ON and you are creating a serious hazard and violating state law.  The members of the Sunny Isles Beach Police Department enforce this statute and are diligently working to reduce as many road hazards as possible on our roadways, so please do your part and ensure that your low beam headlights are on.

Did you know?  Using your high beam headlights in fog or a heavy rain storm is also a violation.  Not only is it against state statute, but it also makes the situation worse…especially in fog.  The high beam actually blinds the driver using the high beams since the beams hit the fog and it reflects back into the eyes of the driver.  During both rain and fog, your low beam headlights are the safest and legal way to travel.   Be safe, Drive safe!!