WASHINGTON (AP) _ A preliminary study has concluded that the high-mounted rear brake lights required on all cars since 1986 have helped prevent rear-end collisions, the Department of Transportation says.

Rear-end collisions involving 1986 model cars, all of which were required to have the additional brake light, were compared with collisions involving 1985 models. Cars equipped with the extra light were 22 percent less likely to be struck from the rear while braking, Transportation Secretary Elizabeth Dole said Wednesday.

The study, based on police reports from 50 counties, was done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an arm of the Transportation Department. It said the center brake lights were equally effective in city and highway driving.

--- INS Gives Temporary Legal Status to 535 On First Amnesty Day

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Immigration and Naturalization Service gave temporary legal status to 535 illegal aliens on the first day of its year-long amnesty program, the INS has reported, confirming that turnout was light.

An estimated 50,000 people picked up amnesty applications at the 107 special legalization offices around the nation on Tuesday, INS spokesman Verne Jervis said Wednesday.

But only 571 people brought in completed applications and paid fees of $185 per person or $420 per family. Of those, 535 also completed interviews and took home temporary work authorization cards, Jervis said.

--- House Panel OKs Renewal of Price-Anderson Act

WASHINGTON (AP) - The House Interior Committee has voted to renew the law limiting the amount of damages the nuclear industry would have to pay victims of a major accident at a commercial reactor.

The committee accepted with little change a version drafted by Chairman Morris Udall, D-Ariz., establishing a $7 billion cap on industry's liability. Each of the nation's 108 commercial nuclear plants would be required to chip in about $60 million each for the fund. The renewal of the Price-Anderson Act was decided by voice vote.

The current Price-Anderson Act is set to expire Aug. 1. The new bill must also be approved by the House Energy Committee before it reaches the floor. A similar version also is pending in two Senate committees.

--- Shuttle Pilot's Widow Files $1.5 Billion Lawsuit

WASHINGTON (AP) - The widow of the space shuttle Challenger's pilot has filed a $1.5 billion lawsuit against NASA, the first wrongful death lawsuit against the space agency as a result of the shuttle disaster last year.

Jane J. Smith, widow of Michael J. Smith, filed the lawsuit Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Orlando, Fla. The lawsuit names the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, former NASA official Lawrence J. Mulloy, and Morton Thiokol, which built the booster rocket blamed for the disaster.

Smith was one of seven crew members killed in the space shuttle explosion 73 seconds after liftoff from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Jan. 28, 1986.

NASA refused comment altogether. A Morton Thiokol representative said the company had not seen the lawsuit and therefore could not comment. Mulloy, who has left the space agency, did not return a telephone message.

--- Blood Bank Group Urges Patients to Store Own Blood

WASHINGTON (AP) - The American Association of Blood Banks has urged people facing surgery to store their own blood in advance to reduce the risk of picking up AIDS or other illnesses through transfusions.

The association has been on record as recommending autologous transfusion - the use of one's own stored blood - as the safest approach for more than 10 years.

However, autologous transfusions still account for less than 1 percent of all transfusions despite a sharp increase in recent years as more people become concerned about AIDS, the association said Wednesday.

The association said that 350 of its members, mostly hospitals, had autologous transfusion programs in 1981, but that the number had more than doubled to 745 by 1985, including 105 in regional blood centers.