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Ask Mr. Answer Person: We go to the mailbag

Posted: Sun, Feb 12, 2012 6:15 PM

Mr. Answer Person occasionally receives unsigned letters in the mail.  Our normal practice is to toss them into the wastebasket--if you don't have the courage to attach your name, we don't normally run your question.

But we received an unsigned letter in the mail that we're posting this time because it gives us a chance to set the record straight:

"I have a comment on your article "Veterans officials in Winneshiek County are fighting what they see as wasteful spending involving state funding."  Maybe instead of complaining about how hard it is to spend the $10,000 of outreach money on computers, furniture and conferences, they could actually use it for OUTREACH."

Mr. Answer Person says: You need to reread our story: The second sentence says " There's only one restriction on the state funding--it can NOT be used on direct benefits for veterans."  In other words, the State of Iowa won't let lopcal veterans affairs offices use the money on outreach.  To make this even more plain, local veterans affairs officials WANT to use the money for outreach, but state officials won't allow it.

Someone who did sign his e-mail--Roger--wanted to know "Does Iowa have any laws requiring people to turn on their headlights at dusk, in fog, rain, or heavy snow?"

Mr. Answer Person says: "You're asking a timely question, since snow or fog often is a problem in the winter. 

The Iowa Driver's Manual says, "Remember to turn on your headlights whenever you have trouble seeing others. If you have trouble seeing them, they are having trouble seeing you.  On rainy, snowy or foggy days, it is sometimes hard for other drivers to see your vehicle. In these conditions, headlights make your vehicle easier to see. Remember, if you turn on your wipers, turn on your headlights.  Turn on your headlights when it begins to get dark. If you turn them on a little early, you will help other drivers see you.  When driving at dusk or dawn, turn on your headlights.  Drivers coming toward you may have trouble seeing your vehicle. Your headlights will help them see you."

But you specifically asked about whether there is a law requiring headlight use.  Yes, it's 321.384 of the Iowa Code, which says in part:

Every motor vehicle upon a highway within the state, at any time from sunset to sunrise, and at such other times when conditions such as fog, snow, sleet, or rain provide insufficient lighting to render clearly discernible persons and vehicles on the highway at a distance of five hundred feet ahead, shall display lighted headlamps as provided in section 321.415, subject to exceptions with respect to parked vehicles as hereinafter stated."

So, there you have it--turn on those headlights while traveling, not just at night, but also when conditions warrant.