Some vehicles manufactured a decade ago or longer have a feature that automatically turns on some lights when the engine is started, a feature that is increasingly common. Rest and Brynaert concede that eventually the legislation might be moot.
“We can wait until all the old cars are off the road,” Rest said. “... Or we can be proactive.”
Brynaert’s House bill hasn’t been scheduled for a committee hearing yet, and she said she may wait until 2014 to make a major effort at passing it.
“We need some advocacy groups that would work with us,” said Brynaert, mentioning AAA or law enforcement associations. “... If we can get some support from them, I think we stand a decent chance of moving it forward.”
One previous source of resistance to the legislation was motorcyclists, who are already required to use their headlamps. The concern was that motorcycles would stand out less if all vehicles were using headlights, Rest said.
Opposition could also come from people attempting to maximize fuel efficiency and minimize bulb replacement, although the MnDOT report noted that a 2008 California study concluded that fuel savings would be no more than 1 percent if drivers turned off vehicle lights during daytime driving.
Sugden is confident any expense would be more than made up by the reduction in accidents.
“It’s nothing that’s going to cost anyone any real money, and it could save not only lives but damage to cars and everything else,” Sugden said.
The studies compiled by MnDOT bore that out. All showed that savings outstripped costs, including one that found nearly $2 in reduced costs associated with crashes for every $1 in expense created by 24-hour headlight use.
As for concern that police officers would be pulling people over for not having their lights on in the midday sun, Rest told Transportation Committee members that she would be willing to change her bill to make violation of the proposed headlight law a secondary offense. Unlike a primary traffic offense, a secondary offense can only be enforced if an officer stops a motorist for another violation.