Ask a Trooper: Why are cars' fog lights so bright and annoying?

Ask a Trooper: Why are cars' fog lights so bright and annoying?

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Sgt. Troy Christianson

Sgt. Troy H. Christianson of the Minnesota State Patrol

Question: Can you give out information about fog lights? I notice a lot of people have them on and when I am meeting them on the road in the evening or at night, some are very bright and make seeing the road very difficult. Some of them appear to be out of alignment and are blinding. I hope that having people read this will help make a difference, thanks.

Answer: There are some specific requirements for those lights, but if the fog lights are aimed too high and/or are too bright then they are not legal, even if they are in compliance with the rest of the law. All lights for vehicles have to be approved by the Commissioner of Public Safety and they have to be allowed (or required) by statute.

MN State Statute 169.56 Sub 2 says, “Any motor vehicle may be equipped with not to exceed two fog lamps mounted on the front at a height not less than 12 inches nor more than 30 inches above the level surface upon which the vehicle stands and so aimed that when the vehicle is not loaded none of the high-intensity portion of the light to the left of the center of the vehicle shall at a distance of 25 feet ahead project higher than a level of four inches below the level of the center of the lamp from which it comes. Lighted fog lamps meeting the above requirements may be used with lower headlamp beams…..”

Another relevant law is MN State Statute 169.63(b), which also tells us that, “When a motor vehicle equipped with headlamps, as (herein) required, is also equipped with any auxiliary lamps, spot lamps or any other lamps on the front thereof projecting a beam of intensity greater than 300-candle power, not more than a total of four of any such lamps on the front of a vehicle shall be lighted at any one time when upon a highway.”

Also, some of the lights you are seeing might actually be "daytime running lights". Many of those are on automatically and are installed by the manufacturer. The driver may not always have the ability to turn them off. They cannot be used in lieu of headlights, but sometimes they are, which would be a violation. It is a good practice to keep your lights on at all times on the road to make yourself more visible to other drivers. It’s the law to have head lights (and tail lights) on during rain. I hope this information helps.

If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota send your questions to Sgt. Troy Christianson – Minnesota State Patrol at 2900 48th Street NW, Rochester MN 55901-5848. (Or reach him at, Troy.Christianson@state.mn.us) Twitter: MSPPIO_SOUTH

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