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Thread: U. S. Federal legality of ECE type-approved auxiliary lamps

  1. #1
    Unenlightened
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    Default U. S. Federal legality of ECE type-approved auxiliary lamps

    Hello, this is my first post on the forum and I have been trying to find the answer to this directly but could not find anything Concrete. Is it illegal to use ECE certified driving like Hella 500/700 etc. lights on US public roads?

    Something else that I am confused by is that some states directly allow by law the use of ECE certified lights on their roads. Does that law regarding ECE certified lights come into conflict with federal law? I have been trying
    to read up on this and wanted to make the right decision regarding street legal lighting for my vehicle.

    Thank you,
    Bobjon

  2. #2
    Moderator Alaric Darconville's Avatar
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    Default Re: U. S. Federal legality of ECE type-approved auxiliary lamps

    Quote Originally Posted by bobjohn View Post
    Hello, this is my first post on the forum


    I have been trying to find the answer to this directly but could not find anything Concrete. Is it illegal to use ECE certified driving like Hella 500/700 etc. lights on US public roads?
    Auxiliary lamps are not Federally-regulated except that their installation cannot render inoperative any required vehicle lighting. For example, if you mount fog lamps directly in front of your low beam headlamp, that would render the low beam inoperative. Or if you installed an auxiliary high beam right in front of your turn signals (or in both examples if they were mounted close enough it shadowed the required beam pattern or blocked required viewing angles).

    It's up to the States to regulate the non-required lighting. Ordinarily, you're not going to get a ticket for an auxiliary high beam on just because it's *there*, rather, only if you misuse it. Misusing auxiliary high beams is ticket-worthy as that can present a real danger to others. But it's doubtful they'll take a look at the lens markings and go "Oh, hey, not only did you blind me but this is an ECE lamp!".

    For replacing regulated lamps with their ECE counterparts, some States (Washington, for one, while Oregon at one time did but now doesn't) allow it. Obviously, you'll still need to get lamps with the same traffic directionality as us (so headlamps for Germany (Right Hand Traffic) would be OK, headlamps for the UK (Left Hand Traffic) would not be ok. Of note is under CMVSS 108 (C for Canada), ECE lamps are permitted and cannot be prohibited by Provincial laws. Again, RHT lamps only (which is stated in CMVSS 108).

    Something else that I am confused by is that some states directly allow by law the use of ECE certified lights on their roads. Does that law regarding ECE
    certified lights come into conflict with federal law?
    For ECE lamps, that's "type-approved" (they don't work on our self-certification basis). You'll probably never run into any real legal trouble (very rarely do you see a Federal Police car operating, but they're not enforcing traffic regulations or monitoring vehicle equipment). You're more likely to run into problems with your insurance if you get in a nighttime collision and someone complains that your lighting isn't from around here. But that would be pretty rare.

    I... wanted to make the right decision regarding street legal lighting for my vehicle.
    You might be surprised to learn that in many cases (assuming a GOOD lamp in the first place), US-spec low beams give greater distance seeing at night and better lighting of overhead signs (but then again, we permit more glare than in the ECE). That being said, there are examples of good and bad lamps for either spec, and perhaps, depending on what you drive, the ECE-spec lamp would be better. Which vehicle is this? Year, make, model, trim level?

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