Illuminating light legality

Check aftermarket lighting for required marks to ensure legality.

There is little doubt in my mind that one of the most popular add on accessories for vehicles is some type of light. I was asked recently to comment by a visitor to the DriveSmartBC web site who said that he had noticed rectangular LED light bars in the bumpers and on the roofs of trucks and SUVs. While it is possible that some of these lamps are legal for use on the highway, many are not. The question is, how do you tell?

In general, lights that comply with requirements are marked by the manufacturer to show that fact. North American equipment bears SAE or DOT codes, European lamps with E codes and Japanese lights with JIS/JASIC codes. Each has a particular marking that shows device function such as SAE Y or E HR for an auxiliary driving light. A lack of these markings should raise a red flag.

Unfortunately, it is common to find counterfeit markings on aftermarket lamps, particularly those purchased from outside of Canada on eBay. LED lights are slowly gaining acceptance for on highway applications and no doubt will be present in all applications in future. For now, if you cannot find a similar LED lamp that is original equipment on a vehicle manufactured in North America be suspicious that the approval markings are bogus.

If the lamps do not show any approval markings or words similar to “check with local authorities before using on the highway” are present on the packaging it is highly probable that these lights are not legal for use.

All non-approved lamps installed on your vehicle are considered to be “off road lamps” and must be covered with an opaque cover when the vehicle is being driven on the highway.

The author is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. To comment or learn more, please visit www.drivesmartbc.ca.