Quick tip for avoiding a ticket for a headlight

Even though my 2006 Honda Ridgeline doesn’t have daytime running headlights (i.e. the ones that run all the time, whether you like it or not), I drive with them on anyway, at all times. Even though I know it’s just wearing down the lightbulbs, I turn them on for safety so other drivers see me, regardless of whether I’m driving on a deserted road at noon or beltway traffic at 5pm. Whether this practice has ever saved my truck or me is a fact I’d rather not test.

But as mentioned, keeping the headlights on all the time wears them out, but not as quickly as you’d think. My 2006 truck is close to hitting 65,000 miles on the odometer and “finally” one headlight went out. But how did I find out?

You see, I don’t want to drive at night with a broken headlight and risk a traffic ticket, and I don’t regularly inspect my vehicle by walking around while the lights are on (and Maryland doesn’t have an annual safety inspection), so I found 2 very simple tricks to testing all my vehicle lights.

I bet half of you will say “duh” to these tips once you read them, but I bet only a small fraction of you have ever thought of them on your own!

How to easily check your headlights:

Turn them on, day or night, and look at the reflection in someone’s bumper/rear of car. DUH! But that’s how I’ve always done it and how I found out my headlight went out today. I guess it helps if you have traffic or red lights in your area, which I know some of you don’t, so here’s another tip…

How to easily check ALL your lights:

Drive up to or back up to a shop window (or any large reflective area you can see from your vehicle) and turn on your lights, tap your brakes, etc. DUH! Actually, if you’re often alone and don’t want to ask someone to check if your brake lights work, this may be your only option (other than sticking a brick on your brake pedal and getting out to check. OOH! That’s a third tip!).

See how simple these tips are? Did you say “DUH!”? Well did you ever try them? I bet not!

About the author

Clever Dude


  • I said DUH, because that’s the only way I’ve ever done this. I didn’t think it was an amazing tip of my own creation at the time.

    • @Matt, if you read the whole article, you would see I didn’t claim it as a unique idea because:

      “I bet half of you will say “duh” to these tips once you read them, but I bet only a small fraction of you have ever thought of them on your own!”

  • That is a really great way to confuse / piss off people in the car in front of you or people in the store.

    How many people honestly get a ticket for having a light out in their car? What about just asking a friend to walk around your car and tell you if the lights are working. Personally, I only check my lights when I’m towing something (making sure all the hook ups are working).

  • I do the headlights trick. Ill try the brick for taillights. I could really care less about the people in other cars, whether theyre pissed or not.

  • Good tips. Funny thing you write about this because I need to check my lights.

    I’m fairly sure my headlights work, a la your first tip. When I drive at night, I can see both of my headlights in another car’s bumper. Really though, I hardly drive at night, so this isn’t a big issue.

    My concern is my taillights. I couldn’t tell you if they work or not… Yikes!

  • I have used these tips before, except for the brick on the brake.
    just because you never heard of someone getting a ticket for headlights doesn’t mean it can’t happen. just learn from others and keep it moving.

    • Just to add, I’ve never gotten a ticket for a headlight that wasn’t working, but a number of friends have. Depending on your state laws, an officer can either pull you over for the headlight alone or as part of another stop (like if you were speeding or went through a stop sign). Basically, my advice is get your light fixed. For non-HID (those bright headlights), bulbs are relatively cheap. If it’s a Xenon bulb, it’s over $100 per bulb, but you need to get it replaced for both safety and your own wallet, so just do it.

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