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Thread: Vehicle Lighting Laws & Regulations • Documents & Links

  1. #1

    Default Vehicle Lighting Laws & Regulations • Documents & Links

    This thread serves as a repository for official documents and links to regulations, laws, and other (closely) related documents having to do with vehicle lighting. It is a closed thread for reference only; discussion of any content housed here will take place on other threads. If you wish to submit a document or link, send a PM to a moderator (Alaric Darconville or -Virgil-) and it will be handled.
    Last edited by -Virgil-; 02-15-2016 at 02:39 PM. Reason: PM links

  2. #2

    Default International • UN (ECE)

    UN Regulations (formerly known as "ECE Regulations", "European Regulations", or informally as the "E-code")

    R.E.5: Light Source Specifications (supersedes UN Regulations 37, 99, and 128 -- contains specs for all regulated automotive light sources; spec sheets start on page 14)
    Last edited by -Virgil-; 05-03-2018 at 11:11 AM.

  3. #3

    Default North America

    US Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 108
    This is the Federal regulation that governs all lamps and reflective devices on motor vehicles in the USA

    Current version
    FMVSS 108 full text including laboratory test procedures (Current version)

    Old versions
    FMVSS 108 full text, rewrite (PDF, final rule with explanations, 2011)

    FMVSS 108 full text, pre-rewrite (PDF)

    Other related regulations

    Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Standard No. 108 (applies to commercial truck & bus industry—contents & requirements largely but not completely identical to FMVSS 108)

    49 CFR 564: Replaceable Light Source Information (This is the compendium of headlight bulb types approved for use in headlamps in the USA, and their specifications)

    US National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966
    (This is the Act that eventually established the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and its authority to write and enforce the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards). Originally located at 15 USC 1394-1410, it has been reorganized and is now located at 49 USC 301. Old to new location conversion of various subsections is here.

    Sections most frequently relevant to discussions on this forum include:

    • Old USC 1397(a)(2) = new 49 USC 30122: Prohibits regulated parties to "render inoperative" a mandatory regulated device, system, or design feature; "render inoperative" can mean to remove, disable, damage, destroy, or alter the performance so it is no longer compliant.

    • Old USC 1397(a)(1)(A) = new 49 USC 30112(a): Prohibits the manufacture, importation, introduction into interstate commerce, offer, or sale of vehicles or items of regulated vehicle equipment not compliant with all applicable provisions of all applicable Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.


    Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards 108 and 108.1
    These are the Canadian national regulations that governs all lamps and reflective devices on motor vehicles.

    Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 108 covers all lamps and reflective devices

    Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 108.1 covers UN ("European") headlamps permitted on vehicles in Canada as an alternative to the US headlamps specified in CMVSS 108.

    • Canada Technical Standards Document 108 contains technical prescriptions, figures, and tables referred to in CMVSS 108 and CMVSS 108.1. Revision 5, PDF


    Interpretive & explanatory materials
    These materials explain or clarify the meaning and applicability of various regulations.

    • Pulse/flash/blink devices for center brake lights are illegal, and so are devices that flash the left and right brake lights before they come on steadily (specific to USA, but same regulatory provisions exist in Canada)

    • There is no such thing as DOT Approval. NHTSA is the DOT agency in charge of setting and enforcing vehicle and equipment safety standards, but they have no authority to approve or disapprove motor vehicles or equipment.

    Headlamp usage laws

    US State & Canada Provincial Headlamp Usage Laws
    Last edited by -Virgil-; 09-18-2016 at 04:09 PM. Reason: Added more links

  4. #4

    Default Europe (specific countries)


    Regulations concerning technical requirements and approval of vehicles, parts and equipment (vehicle regulations) Chapter 28: lamps, light signals, reflex reflectors.
    English translationNorwegian original
    Last edited by -Virgil-; 02-23-2018 at 08:09 PM. Reason: Add Norway

  5. #5

    Default Australia & New Zealand

    Australian Design Rules
    These are the Australian national legal requirements that govern the design, construction, and safety and emissions performance of vehicles and components, including lights and reflectors.

    Australian Design Rules, 3rd Edition

    Western Australia
    LED Light Bar Fitment and Installation (PDF, August 2015)

    Fitment and Use of Additional and Optional Vehicle Lights (Lamps) (PDF, August 2017)


    New Zealand
    New Zealand's laws call for vehicle lighting components and systems complying with selected provisions of various technical standards originating outside New Zealand.

    Vehicle Lighting 2004 is the New Zealand legislation covering vehicle lighting systems and devices. Linked page provides access to the rule and amendments.

    Vehicle requirements are listed by vehicle class, build date, and type of component or system (link is for passenger vehicles; other types of vehicles can be looked up here).

    Lighting standards incorporated by reference include those from Australia, the UN ("European" standards), Japan, and the US.
    Last edited by -Virgil-; 04-15-2019 at 04:00 PM. Reason: Add document

  6. #6

    Default Asia

    Official Portal of Road Transport Department Malaysia (Mostly in Malay; a more direct link to the laws itself will be added shortly)
    Malaysia is a UNECE signatory and in 2017 will enforce 11 UNECE regulations previously unenforced

    __________________________________________________ _____
    Last edited by Alaric Darconville; 01-11-2017 at 05:12 PM.

  7. #7

    Default Central and South America

    Resolução 227 ("Resolution #227", February 2007: requirements for vehicle lighting and signalling systems -- in Portuguese)

    __________________________________________________ _____

    Decreto Ejecutivo 640 ("Executive Decree 640"). See page 18 for Capitulo IV: Del sistema de iluminación vehicular ("Chapter IV: Vehicle lighting systems"). In Spanish.
    Last edited by -Virgil-; 03-23-2013 at 08:51 AM. Reason: Per moderator

  8. #8

    Default Other Regions

    Links related to countries not covered by any other section of this thread go here.

  9. #9
    Moderator Alaric Darconville's Avatar
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    Sep 2001
    Stillwater, America

    Default North America vs. Canada - A comparison

    It is often stated that "European lighting is better", and the other way around. Fact is, there's a wide overlap, and a huge variance between the standards. Both have the laudable goal of improving safety on the roads for drivers and bicyclists and pedestrians. How they go about it is interesting:

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