Trivial pursuit

January 29, 1991

Don't look now, but the Maryland General Assembly is mulling over legislation to require motorists to put on their headlights every time they they turn on their windshield wipers.

The bill, which would make it illegal to drive through an August sun shower with lights off, was proposed by Sen. William Amoss, who thinks the legislation should be approved because "it's a good bill."

There is plenty room for argument on that score -- weighing, for instance, the safety benefits of headlights in the fog to, say, the increased risk posed by drivers fumbling to turn on the lights, flip on the wipers, turn down the radio and the watch the road. As for enforcement, we can only imagine the chaos when delinquent drivers -- hearing police sirens behind them -- quickly scan the speedometer, click on their seat belts and flip on their lights. Meanwhile, we don't dare predict the final cost to the bureaucracy -- in time and energy as well as dollars -- of ticketing errant motorists, then having courts hear the interminable appeals in traffic court.

Amoss certainly has a point: Drivers should drive safely. No one disputes that. But this bill is an entirely trivial pursuit; it does not deserve the dignified mantle of law.

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