It is widely understood the duty of local law enforcement agencies is to keep the public safe.

Drivers on any given day may be pulled over for inconsistent driving or any other strange behavior, but sometimes what law enforcement notices is the vehicle itself.  Sometimes the issues can stem from faulty vehicle features drivers may not seem to notice.

The California Police Department has pulled drivers over for a variety of vehicular faults including noisy engines, dangling parts resulting from an accident or even a disturbingly loud muffler.

As for the Moniteau County Sheriff’s Department, deputies have needed to remind travelers of expired license plates and not stopping at stop signs.

One noticeable problem drivers may not be aware of, but law enforcement certainly has, is light violations.

Along with the Missouri Highway Patrol, CPD and the Moniteau County Sheriff’s Department have all agreed car lights malfunctioning, or not functioning at all, is one of the biggest reasons drivers are pulled over.

Many car owners may not realize their rear lights are not illuminated, but law enforcement is there to offer a gentle reminder to get the problem fixed. Captain John Hotz, with the Missouri Highway Patrol, said the first time someone is pulled over for this violation is, more often than not, ended with a warning.

“After we tell them about this, the driver can always get the lights fixed somewhere,” Hotz said. “But, if we have to pull them over for the same thing, and they didn’t get their lights fixed, that’s when we have to serve them a ticket.”

Mercy is given the first time a driver is pulled over for not having working headlights or taillights. This is mainly because law enforcement understands drivers may not be aware of this. After all, when traveling, a driver cannot see their taillights.

Another visual problem can arise when it comes to car lights. Steve Bonecutter, owner of Bonecutter’s Body Shop, said headlights may become dim from weather or insects, causing a number of safety concerns.

“After a while, the plastic starts oxidizing,” Bonecutter said of headlights. “This is a big safety hazard, especially when it’s raining or snowing. Your visibility on the road is probably limited anyway, but if a foggy car comes up on you really quick, there’s a good chance you won’t see them.”

Buffing out headlights to shine clearly is an easy fix, Bonecutter said. He said not to rely on easy life hacks that offer at-home tricks to clean headlights. The best option is to make an appointment with a body shop and fix the issue professionally.

The Missouri sun can make driving more difficult than it needs to be.

This is where tinted windows come into play. Hotz said there is most certainly a law on just how tinted windows should be. Violators of this may not realize how dark is too dark.

“Vision reducing materials need to have 35 percent of the light transmit through the windows,” Hotz said. “There is about a plus or minus of 3 percent in that range.”

The take home message is to be aware, not only of other drivers on the road, but your own vehicle, as well. It is for your own safety.

By Liz Morales | California Democrat