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Traffic Talk: Oklahoma's laws on vehicle lights have some drivers in the fog

Don Gammill: Just because your vehicle has fog lights doesn’t mean they’re an everyday (or night) accessory.
Oklahoman Published: June 2, 2014

Lights on a vehicle primarily are for illumination and recognition. They’re designed to help, not hinder.

But how and when you use them is just as important as having them.

I drive a Mazda Miata which sits pretty close to the ground. Having someone driving behind me on clear nights with fog lamps on is just like having them use their high beams. The law plainly prohibits the use of fog lamps except under (certain) conditions. Title 47 O.S. § 12-217(D) provides:

D. 1. A motor vehicle may be equipped with not to exceed two front fog lamps or two rear fog lamps which shall only be used when visibility, as described in paragraphs 3 and 4 of subsection A of this section, is limited to one-half (1/2) mile or less.

(all emphasis added). The reference to “paragraphs 3 and 4 of subsection A” leads us to the following language:

A. As used in this article:

3. “Front fog lamp” means a lamp mounted to provide illumination to the front of a motor vehicle during conditions of rain, snow, fog, dust, or other atmospheric disturbances;

4. “Rear fog lamp” means a lamp mounted to provide illumination to the rear of a motor vehicle during conditions of rain, snow, fog, dust, or other atmospheric disturbances[.] (emphasis added).

Why are people permitted to unlawfully use fog lamps with apparent impunity? I see so many drivers unlawfully using fog lamps on clear nights that it does not seem anyone is being stopped for this abuse. What is OCPD’s policy regarding enforcement of this statute? What is OHP’s policy on enforcement of this law? Will you please remind your readers about this law?

— Charles

Even in a larger vehicle, Charles, you aren’t always out of the line of glare when certain lighting is used, often incorrectly.

It could be that such lights were added and mounted improperly. Maybe they are just in need of adjustment. It’s possible the driver for whatever reason doesn’t know they’re on. Some drivers use them when the slightest weather change occurs. And then again, it just might be that the driver wants to use them, even though conditions don’t meet the criteria listed above.

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by Don Gammill
General Assignment Editor and Columnist
Don Gammill is general assignment editor and columnist. A native of Ponca City, he graduated from Central State University (now the University of Central Oklahoma). While in college, he was a sports stringer for The Oklahoma City Times....
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