Drivers who operate vehicles off road – working in the bush or enjoying wilderness recreation – now have access to a dazzling selection of specialized off-road vehicle lights and light bars, to brighten their way.
But while these popular ultra-bright lights can be useful and fun, there’s a dark side. We frequently receive reports of motorists and commercial drivers, who are driving on highways with their off-roading lights turned on. Those drivers get a super illuminated view of what’s ahead, but are temporarily blinding others on the road.
An additional danger is that the extra vehicle lighting can create a false sense of security, encouraging drivers to travel at greater speeds. We’ve received reports that some exceed the speed limit, because, hey…”they can see so well now.”
So here’s a reminder that when on the highway, a vehicle equipped with off-road lamps or any lighting device that is not permitted by regulation, must use light covers that block all light output. This safety regulation can be found in the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations Division, section 4.25. We also have information, tips and examples for off-road lamps, general lighting, fog lamps and auxiliary driving lamps in this BC Lighting Requirements Summary.
To ensure compliance with this and many other acts and regulations, our Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement (CVSE) folks conduct both visual and detailed mechanical safety inspections at roadside and at inspection stations. As well, commercial vehicles over 8,200 kg must be inspected either semi-annually or annually, and lighting devices are part of that vehicle inspection. Every year, CVSE, police and other enforcement agencies, also do safety checks focussed on off-road lights mounted on non-commercial and passenger vehicles.
Drivers whose off-road lamps are uncovered while on a highway could receive a $109 fine and be ordered to have their vehicle inspected at a designated inspection facility.
But we urge them to avoid all that, and to simply cover up their extra lights, after working or playing off road. It’s for everyone’s safety.