Dear Crabby,

My husband and I moved here from Ohio over seven years ago, and we love it (except for fires and inversions).

But why is it that a lot of people here don’t turn their lights on when it’s foggy or rainy? Don’t they know that other drivers may not be able to see them, especially when their car is a dark color? I’m just hoping I can stop in time!


Lights On

P.S.: In Ohio, if your wipers are on, your lights have to be on.

Dear Lights,

Driving in fog around here, where fog is FOG, is one of my least favorite things about living in a valley.

I’ve heard people describe it as “pea soup,” but I think that’s underselling it. Sometimes it’s more like cement.

Turning your lights on is the only action you can take to mitigate that even a tiny bit. So to readers out there who don’t turn your lights on when it’s foggy or rainy: Please do so in the future; we would really prefer not to crash into you because you were too dumb to reach down and turn that knob.

OK, with that out of the way, I’d like to point out that we’re not really that far out of step with the highly enlightened people of, uh, Ohio. State law in Washington says lights must be on “from a half hour after sunset to a half hour before sunrise and at any other time when, due to insufficient light or unfavorable atmospheric conditions, persons and vehicles on the highway are not clearly discernible at a distance of 1,000 feet ahead.” Practically speaking, that’s pretty much the same law Ohio has.

So why don’t people here follow that law? I’m not sure. (I’m also not entirely convinced the Yakima Valley has a higher percentage of fog-headlight scofflaws than Ohio or anywhere else. But for the sake of this column, I’m taking the claim at face value. Even one is one too many, after all.)

Maybe people here have gotten complacent from years of driving in apocalyptic fog. Maybe they figure it doesn’t matter anyway, because in the kind of fog we have here turning the lights on only means you can see 10 feet instead of 8. I don’t know. I suspect it’s some combination of those things and, like, 100 other idiot reasons. I wish there was something more I could do about it.

Anyway, while I’ve got you here, I too am a Midwest transplant. And I too dislike the fires and inversions. I also miss summer thunderstorms. But you know what I’m glad we don’t have here in Yakima? Tornados and blizzards. You have to take the bad with the good.

For instance, living in Yakima means dealing with drivers who don’t turn on their lights when they should. But on the plus side, you no longer live in Ohio.

Hope that helps.



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