Lighting, markers and reflectors

This chapter details the requirements relevant to operators for lights and reflectors on different vehicles.

Updates for 2023:

  • Information on retractable or foldable aerodynamic rear devices on heavy goods vehicles and the implications they have on lighting.

  • DVSA removed annual test failure items for reversing lamps on trailers. 


Download the lighting, markers and reflectors chapter of the Yearbook of Road Transport Law


  • Use of lights.

    • General.

    • Dazzle.

    • Fog/spot lamps.

    • Reversing lamps.

    • Rear markings.

    • Emergency lights and flashing beacons.

      • Blue.

      • Amber.

      • Breakdown.

      • Green.

      • All emergency lights.

      • Hazard warning lights.

    • Use of lights when parking.

  • Lighting – what is required?

    • Towing.

    • Long vehicles and combinations – additional side marker lamps.

    • Projecting trailers and vehicles carrying overhanging or projecting loads.

    • Retractable or foldable aerodynamic rear devices on heavy goods vehicles.

    • Reflective signs on school buses.

  • Specification and position.

    • Day Time Running Lamps.

    • Direction indicators.

    • End-outline marker lamps.

    • Front fog lamps.

    • Front position lamps.

    • Front retro reflectors.

    • Headlamps.

    • Dim dip headlamps.

    • Side retro reflectors.

    • Side marker lamps.

    • Number plate lamps.

    • Rear fog lamps.

    • Rear retro reflectors.

    • Rear position lamps.

    • Reversing lamps.

    • Stop lamps.

    • Rear markings.

  • Conspicuity markings

    • White reflective markings.

    • Reflective vehicle liveries.

Download the lighting, markers and reflectors chapter of the Yearbook of Road Transport Law

Lighting Regulations Requirements

The lighting regulations are complex, and many of the detailed requirements are only relevant to vehicle manufacturers and body builders. But basically, between sunset and sunrise all vehicles in motion on a road, except a motorcycle or pedal cycle being pushed, must keep lit and unobscured every front lamp, rear position lamp, rear registration plate lamp, side marker lamp and end outline marker lamp required to be fitted.

During the hours of darkness (half an hour after sunset to half an hour before sunrise) a vehicle fitted with obligatory dipped-beam headlamps and used on the road, except on a restricted road where the street lamps are not more than 200 yards apart or when the vehicle is parked, must keep every such lamp lit. Vehicle markings and reflectors also come under the lighting regulations.

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