When Could Drivers Be Liable for Damages Due to Improper High Beam Use?
When driver negligence leads to a car crash, serious injuries and costly property damage can occur. One very common type of negligent driving behavior is the misuse of high beams. When oncoming motorists cannot see due to the bright lights of another driver’s high beams, even for a few seconds, the natural reaction is to swerve. What if this happens to you and it causes you to lose control and crash into another vehicle or object? Who may be liable in this situation? In Nevada, there are laws mandating headlight use, including one that requires drivers to dim their high beams at certain times. If your crash was caused by another driver’s failure to dim his or her high beams, he or she could be liable for the damages. Our car crash attorneys in Las Vegas are prepared to help if you find yourself in this situation. Contact the law offices at High Stakes Injury Law to find out if you have legal options. There is no charge for an initial consultation and no obligation to hire our services.
Is It Illegal to Drive With High Beams in Nevada?Under Nevada state law – NRS 484D.215, the use of high beams is not allowed at certain times. Specifically, high beams must be dimmed whenever:
- Drivers come within 500 feet of oncoming traffic – even for a single vehicle
- When within 300 feet or less of the rear of another vehicle going in the same direction
Can Drivers Be Liable for Failing to Dim Their High Beams?Since there is a law against the improper use of high beams, if a driver breaks that law and causes you to crash, negligence per se may apply. What this means is that if the other driver is assessed with a ticket for violation of this law, he or she could be “automatically” found negligent. For the crash victim, it means not having to prove the other driver was negligent if it is clear the driver failed to dim his or her high beams. However, the injury victim will still need to prove that the driver’s negligence led to the crash.
Dangers of Improper High Beam UseWhen people think of headlight crashes, they may think of those caused by a failure to use headlights at times when the law requires it. For instance, headlights must be used between 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise and other times, as required by Nevada state law. However, there are several ways crashes occur due to the improper of a vehicle’s high beams, including by:
- Blinding oncoming drivers: Improper high beam use may temporarily blind oncoming traffic, causing drivers to swerve or lose control of their vehicles. If this happens, they could crash into another object or vehicle, including yours.
- Decreasing your own visibility: One danger drivers may not think of when misusing high beams is how it reduces their own ability to see properly. For instance, in rainy weather, the brighter lights bounce off puddles of water and raindrops. This can create a haze of light and make it difficult for you to see road hazards, pedestrians and other vehicles. It can also cause you to misjudge the distance of oncoming traffic, which is especially important if you need to turn, merge or change lanes.
- Increasing the risk of a road rage incident: Road rage is on the rise everywhere these days, including in Las Vegas. Risking someone else’s safety, if they do not have an accident, could cause them to get angry. For some drivers, it could lead to road rage, an aggressive form of anger, which could result in serious harm to you, themselves or others.
How Can You Avoid a Crash Caused by Improper High Beam Use?Every driver is required to use reasonable care on the road. This duty of care includes taking reasonable steps, such as dimming high beams, to help prevent harm to others. If you are driving at night, you can reduce your risk of a crash due to “high beam blindness” by taking these precautions:
- Before setting off, change your rearview mirror to nighttime setting – this dims the lights of vehicles behind you
- Make sure your windshield is clean and clear – when light hits dirt and streaks, it reduces visibility
- Make sure there are no visible cracks or chips in the windshield that need repairing
- If a vehicle with bright high beams approaches you in traffic, do not look into the lights
- Look at the white line to your slight right while the vehicle passes (do not turn your head to look fully right)
- Slow down, without slamming on the brakes