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Vehicle Lighting Safety for Trucks and Buses

vehicle lighting guidelines

Road safety is all about keeping people safe, keeping the vehicle safe and keeping the load safe. One of the best ways to improve safety is to have a more visible presence while on the road. Having a well-lit truck isn’t just a moving light show for the other vehicles on the road. Proper vehicle lighting alerts other drivers to your presence and acts as a visual cue to keep them alert – for their safety and yours.

Lights aren’t just for showing off your rig. The requirements for semi-trucks and bus vehicle lighting are enforced based on FMVSS/CMVSS 108 regulations. According to the FMVSS regulations, every lamp, reflector, and conspicuity tape device must be permanently attached to a specified location on the truck cab and/or trailer. The lights on the vehicle must be parallel to the centerline and no other part of the vehicle can prevent the light from performing its prescribed function.

Lights that Must be Present on all Trucks and Buses

Headlights

Headlights should be functional, clear from cloudiness and always remain in their correct position. They must include an upper beam and a lower beam. Vehicle owners can purchase headlights at their discretion.

Parking Lights

Parking lights provide visibility when the vehicle is parked. Two parking lights are required, and light colors can be white or yellow. They must be placed on the front of the truck, one on each side of the centerline as far apart as practical.

Turn Signals and Hazard Lights

Turn signals indicate the anticipated direction of the vehicle. They also act as hazard indicators when the vehicle is disabled. Front hazard warning lights must be yellow, while rear hazard warning lights can be yellow or red. They must be mounted at the widest point of the front or rear of the vehicle.

Clearance Lights

Trucks over 80 inches wide are required to run clearance lights on the front and back. Clearance lights alert other drivers of the extreme width of the truck. Clearance lights on the front of the truck should be yellow, while the lights on the rear should be red. Note: The rear clearance lights must be separate indicators from the tail lights.

Identification Lights

Identification lights indicate the presence of a wide vehicle. Front identification lights should be mounted as high as possible and must be yellow. Rear identification lights must also be mounted as high as possible in red. Three lights are required for both front and back.

Side Marker Lights

Front side marker lights and rear side marker lights add more illumination for both the driver and other motorists. Side marker lights should be mounted at the sides and as far front or back as possible. Front side marker lights should be yellow. Rear side marker lights should be red.

Intermediate Side Marker Lights

For vehicles 30 feet or longer, a second set of two marker lights are required. These lights should be yellow and mounted on the side of the truck near the center. These marker lights alert motorists to the length of the truck.

Reflex Reflectors

Front side reflectors should be yellow and mounted at the front and the side of the vehicle. Rear side reflex reflectors should be red and mounted to the side of the truck at the rear, as far back as possible. In addition to rear side reflectors, rear reflectors are also required on the rear of the truck as far apart as possible.

Intermediate Side Reflex Reflectors

For vehicles 30 feet or longer, a second set of two intermediate side reflectors are required. These lights should be yellow and mounted on the side of the truck near the center. Intermediate side reflectors alert motorists to the length of the truck.

Tail lights

Tail lights alert other drivers to the width of the vehicle, allowing them to get an idea of the size of the vehicle in front of them. Two red tail lights are required to be mounted to the rear of trucks, as far apart as possible and at identical heights.

Stop Lights

One of the most important lighting safety components of a fleet vehicle are the stop lamps. They alert other drivers to vehicle braking. They should be red, mounted symmetrically as far apart as possible.

Backup Light

Backup lights are also known as reverse lights. They light up the area behind the truck as it is backing up. The light should be mounted at the rear of the vehicle and be white. Only one backup light is required on the truck.

License Plate Light

License plate lights are required by law. They allow other drivers to read your license plate while running at night. A minimum of one white license plate light should be mounted above, or at the side(s) of the license plate.

Center High Mounted Stop Light

The center high mounted stop light was first mandated in 1986. By placing a brake light higher in a driver's field of vision, it would be more visible and prevent rear end collisions. CHMSL's are required for trucks under 80 feet, red and mounted at the centerline of the rear of the truck.

Road Safety Lighting outside FMVSS regulations

Safety goes beyond doing only what is mandated by law. Staying visibly safe requires the attention of other motorists to you and your intentions. Outside FMVSS regulations, there are other available forms of lighting that can keep you safe during emergencies.

Strobe Lights

Strobe lights are great for catching the attention of other drivers. In an emergency where your fleet vehicle is stopped, a strobe light provides eye catching visibility to your presence. Rotating strobe lights move in a circular motion alerting all drivers within a 360-degree view of your truck. The rotation also creates a blinking affect as the light travels providing an extra attention-grabbing effect.

Strobe lights are portable, many featuring magnetic bases. Carrying them and deploying them are a breeze.

Fog Lights

Traditional high beam lights reflect fog resulting in impaired visibility. Fog lights are designed to shine in a downward angle to prevent reflection from the fog. Fog lights can illuminate the road underneath the fog itself.

Flood Lights

Flood lights can be mounted to areas of the truck where functional work is often performed. Flood lights will light up an area to create a safer work environment for drivers while outside of their trucks.

Visibility is a vital component of safety. Ensuring your truck or bus meets the required lighting regulations not only keeps the truck's driver safe – it keeps all motorists in the vicinity of the truck safe. Inspect your lights for defect and warning signs of failure. Replace them before they no longer function. With a wide selection available, let your Imperial Dedicated Account Advisor help you select the right bulbs, lamps, or lights for your fleet today.

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