Truck

Lights and Positioning

Introduction
Although this page deals specifically with lamps and their positioning on the vehicle, included also are reflectors. The table below lays out the type of lamp, position and required specification:


Type Position Specification
Headlamps Motor vehicles with maximum speed exceeding 15mph require two matched headlamps positioned:
  • so that the highest part of the illuminated surface is not more than 1,200 millimetres from the ground;
  • so that the lowest part of the illuminated surface is not less than 500 millimetres from the ground;
  • on vehicles first used on or after 1 January 1972, so that the outer edges of the lamps are not more than 400 millimetres from the edge of the vehicle.
Each headlamp must:
  • emit a beam of at least 30 watts if on a vehicle first used before 1 April 1986. If used after 1 April 1986 there is no specification;
  • have an approval mark if fitted to a motor vehicle first used on or after 1 April 1986;
  • be either white or yellow;
  • be capable of emitting a dipped or main beam if the vehicle's maximum speed exceeds 25mph.
Motor vehicles first used on or after 1 April 1987 with maximum speed in excess of 40mph must be equipped with dim dipped headlamps or comply with EU Directive 76/756. The requirements for dim dipped lights are that with the engine running (or the ignition switched on) the obligatory position lamp on the device shall cause light to be emitted from each dipped beam lamp with between 10 and 20 per cent of the intensity of the normal dipped beam lamp. The EU directive requires that the aim of the headlamp must remain within the prescribed limits under all conditions of load or must be adjustable from the driver's seat.
Front position lamps Two matched lamps are required at the front of motor vehicles and most trailers positioned:
  • at equal heights from the ground;
  • 1,500 millimetres or, if the structure of the vehicle makes this impracticable, 2,100 millimetres from the ground. For motor vehicles first used before 1 April 1986 and trailers manufactured before 1 October 1985, 2,300 millimetres;
  • not more than 510 millimetres from the edge of the vehicle (400 millimetres for vehicles manufactured on or after 1 October 1985 or first used on or after 1 April 1986, and 150 millimetres for trailers manufactured on or after 1 October 1985).
Each lamp must:
  • have an approval mark if on a vehicle first used on or after 1 January 1972 or a trailer manufactured on or after 1 October 1985;
  • meet specified angles of visibility if on a motor vehicle used on or after 1 April 1986 or a trailer manufactured on or after 1 October 1985;
  • be either white or yellow.
Front fog lamps
  • no requirement on number;
  • when a pair of lamps is fitted to be used instead of obligatory headlamps in seriously reduced visibility, each lamp must be not more than 400 millimetres from the edge of the vehicle;
  • not more than 1,200 millimetres from the ground (except agricultural and road clearance vehicles, industrial tractors and engineering plant).
white or yellow;
displaying an approval mark on vehicles first used on or after 1 April 1986.

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Type Position Specification
End outline marker lamps Motor vehicles first used on or after 1 April 1991 with width exceeding 2,100 millimetres and speed exceeding 25mph, and trailers with width exceeding 2,100 millimetres manufactured on or after 1 October 1990, must have two front facing and two rear facing end outline marker lamps.
The front lamps of a motor vehicle must be mounted not more than 400 millimeter from the side of the vehicle and not lower than the upper edge of the windscreen. The rear lamp on a motor vehicle and the front and rear lamp on a trailer must be mounted at a maximum height compatible with both mounting the lamps as a matched pair and the use for which the vehicle is constructed.
Approved lamps must show white light to the front and red light to the rear and be used under conditions as applied to front and rear position lamps. Lamps must be mounted as a matched pair but the front and rear lamp on one side of the vehicle may be combined in a single lamp with a single light source.
Front retro reflectors Trailers manufactured on or after 1 October 1990 require two front facing white reflectors positioned:
  • not more than 150 millimetres from the sides of the trailer;
  • at least 600 millimetres apart or, if the overall width of the trailer is less than 1,400 millimetres, 400 millimetres apart;
  • not more than 900 millimetres above the ground or, if the structure of the trailer makes this impracticable, not more than 1,500 millimetres;
  • at least 350 millimetres above the ground.
white in colour
Direction indicators Motor vehicles first used on or after 1 April 1986 and trailers manufactured on or after 1 October 1985:
  • side repeater within 2,600 millimetres of the front of the vehicle;
  • front and rear indicators normally not more than 400 millimetres from edge of vehicle;
  • at least 500 millimetres apart (400 millimetres if vehicle is not more than 1,400 millimetres wide);
  • at least 40 millimetres from any headlamp or fog lamp;
  • not more than 1,500 millimetres from the ground (2,300 millimetres if this is impracticable);
  • at least 350 millimetres from the ground.
  • angles of visibility and approval marks for motor vehicles first used on or after 1 April 1986 and trailers manufactured on or after 1 October 1985;
  • indicators on existing vehicles to be plainly visible to the front and rear;
  • amber coloured (except pre-September 1965 vehicles);
  • all indicators to be operated by one switch;
  • indicators to flash between 60 and 120 times a minute and to perform efficiently regardless of speed.

Number plate lamps

Must be fitted to all motor vehicles and trailers. White lamps must light the rear number plate so that it is clearly visible within a defined area.

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Type Position Specification
Stop lamps Two stop lamps are required except on pre-1971 vehicles where one will suffice.
  • one on each side (or on the offside if only one required), at or towards the rear of the vehicle;
  • at least 400 millimetres apart;
  • not more than 1,500 millimetres from the ground (2,100 millimetres if this is impracticable and not a pre-1971 vehicle);
  • at least 350 millimetres from the ground (not pre-1971 vehicles).
  • meet specified angles of visibility (not pre-1971 vehicles);
  • show an approval mark on motor vehicles first used and trailers manufactured on and after 1 February 1974;
  • operate on the application of the braking system;
  • stop lamps must be red.
Rear position lamps Two rear lamps must be fitted to motor vehicles first used on or after 1 April 1986 and trailers manufactured on or after 1 October 1985:
  • within 400 millimetres of the edge of the vehicle;
  • not less than 500 millimetres apart (400 millimetres if vehicle is not more than 1,400 millimetres wide or 300 millimetres if less than 800 millimetres wide);
  • not more than 1,500 millimetres from the ground (2,100 millimetres if this is impracticable);
  • at least 350 millimetres from the ground.
Each rear lamp must:
  • show an approval mark if on a vehicle first used on or after 1 January 1974;
  • meet specified angles of visibility if on a motor vehicle first used on or after 1 April 1986 or a trailer manufactured on or after 1 October 1985;
  • be red.
Rear fog lamps Motor vehicles first used on or after 1 April 1980 and trailers manufactured on or after 1 April 1980 must have rear fog lamps.
One rear fog lamp must be fitted (not more than two may be fitted):
  • at or near the rear of the vehicle;
  • on the vehicle centre line or on the offside if one lamp only is fitted;
  • not less than 250 millimetres or more than 1,000mm from the ground (2,100 millimetres for agricultural vehicles, engineering plant and motor tractors);
  • at least 100 millimetres from any stop lamp.
Rear fog lamps must:
  • be equipped with a tell tale to indicate to the driver that they are lit;
  • be wired so that they are not lit by any braking system:
  • have an approval mark;
  • be red.
Fog lamps fitted voluntarily to motor vehicles first used before 1 April 1980 and trailers manufactured before 1 October 1979 must only meet the following requirements:
  • be fitted at least 100 millimetres from any stop lamps; and
  • not be lit by applying the brakes.

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Type Position Specification
Reversing lamps No more than two reversing lamps may be fitted at the rear of the vehicle. They must only be operated by the selection of reverse gear or by a switch which serves only that purpose and has a tell tale device to indicate to the driver that the lamp is lit. The light must be white. Each lamp must not exceed 24 watts and must show an approval mark if on motor vehicles first used on or after 1 April 1986 or trailers manufactured on or after 1 October 1985.
Rear retro reflectors Two reflectors forming a matched pair to be fitted to Motor vehicles first used on or after 1 April 1986 and trailers manufactured on or after 1 October 1985:
  • within 400 millimetres of the edge of the vehicle;
  • not less than 600 millimetres apart (400 millimetres if vehicle is less than 1,300 millimetres wide or 300 millimetres if less than 800 millimetres wide);
  • not more than 900 millimetres from the ground (1,200 millimetres if this is impracticable);
  • at least 350 millimetres from the ground.
For other vehicles:
  • within 610 millimetres of the edge of the vehicle;
  • not more than 1,525 millimetres from the ground.
Each reflector must be red, display an approved mark on vehicles first used on or after 1 July 1970, and meet specified angles of visibility on motor vehicles first used on or after 1 April 1986 and trailers manufactured on or after 1 October 1985. Triangular shaped reflectors can only be fitted to trailers or broken downmotor vehicles being towed.
No rear reflectors may be fitted on any moveable part of the vehicle.
Side marker lamps Motor vehicles first used on or after 1 April 1991 and trailers manufactured on or after 1 October 1990 require two or more lamps positioned:
  • one not more than 4 metres from the front of the vehicle;
  • one not more than l metre from the rear of the vehicle;
  • not more than 3 metres separation (4 metres if this is not practicable);
  • within 1,530 millimetres to the rear of centre on trailers exceeding 9.15 metres and manufactured before 1 October 1990.
  • not more than 2,300 millimetres above the ground;
  • visible from a reasonable distance;
  • amber or, for trailers manufactured before 1 October 1990, white when viewed from the front, and red from the rear. If the lamp is within l metre of the rear it may be red.

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Type Position Specification
Side retro reflectors Vehicles first used before 1 April 1986 and trailers manufactured before 1 October 1985 require two side reflectors positioned:
  • not less than 350 millimetres from the ground;
  • not more than 1,500 millimetres from the ground;
  • so that the front side reflector is towards the centre of the vehicle, and the rear one within one metre of the rear of the vehicle.
Vehicles first used on or after 1 April 1986 and trailers manufactured on or after 1 October 1985 require side reflectors to be positioned so that one reflector is within 4 metres of the front of the vehicle, one within l metre of the rear of the vehicle and so that there is no gap of more than 3 metres (4 metres if this is not practicable) between any two adjacent reflectors.
Side reflectors must be:
  • amber (red if within one metre of rear of vehicle);
  • in accordance with specified angles of visibility for new vehicles, otherwise plainly visible to the side;
  • not triangular in shape.
No vehicle shall be fitted with a lamp which is capable of showing a red light to the front of the vehicle.
No vehicle shall be fitted with a lamp which is capable of showing any light to the rear of the vehicle other than a red light.

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