The Dark Side of Off-Road Vehicle Lights

Off-Road Vehicle Lights

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.

Off-Road Lights

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.

Page 1 of 48 comments on “The Dark Side of Off-Road Vehicle Lights”

Leave a Comment

  1. On my last trip back from Williams Lake approximately 2 weeks ago, I noticed 3 CVSE vehicles with 20″ light bars on the front and they weren’t covered. So if they are out there enforcing, they better look in the mirror!

    • Hi Pete, We looked into this to confirm that the light bars on our CVSE vehicles are compliant for highway use. The light bars have the required compliance markings for a highway approved device. They are mounted as required by Motor Vehicle Act Regulation – Division 4.

        • Hello,

          Some lights are legal for highway use (and therefore don’t require covers) can be installed on vehicles. Compliance with regulations for highway use depends on:
          – How the lights are marked
          – Where on the vehicle the lights are mounted
          – How the lights are wired

          For more information, please contact the CVSE District Office nearest you.

  2. Commercial Vehicle Safety & Enforcement typically does not deal with non-commercial vehicles due to their policy. However they are legally able to enforce any law under the Motor Vehicle Act to ANY motor vehicle when working with police services. CVSE does make an effort to conduct checks with police services to deal with those jacked up pickups. CVSE is also educating police services on how to spot an unauthorized off road lamp, when a vehicle has an altered suspension more than 10cm requires an inspection etc. Hopefully long term there will be more compliance. So to sum up the vehicles are not “allowed” to be equipped or altered contrary to law.. CVSE just can’t deal with them consistently. Unless they are a National Safety Code vehicle.

  3. My brother is an avid 4 by 4 driver and also works selling car parts.

    One day a customer came into the shop grumbling about getting a ticket for his lights. The customer knew my brother was into 4 by 4ing and seemed to expect sympathy.

    Instead of commiserating with the ticketed driver my brother told him he was an idiot and gave him the parts number for the light covers that would fit his lights along with a price and the selection of colours – off by heart.

    My bro may be a 4 by 4er, but he is a sensible one.

    • Hi Anonymous, Thanks for sharing your story about your brother. Good to know that there are 4 by 4 drivers who are up on the light cover requirements, and people in vehicle accessories retail who are educating drivers and equipping them to be safe and legal. 🙂

  4. the worst perpetrators of these illegal lights are all these jacked up pickup trucks that are allowed on our roads that are also not legal. why do you allow these guys to put on tires lights and suspensions and noisy exhaust that affects all drivers on our roads. all too often i also find it is these guys that tailgate and pass when not safe to.

    • Not everyone that has a lifted truck is Guilty of this! There is a legal height you can lift your truck in BC so I doubt there all not legal. I have no other lights on my truck then the stock ones that came with my truck which was purchased from a dealer already lifted, I think it’s worse when cars and suv shine there bright lights because they think the lifted truck has his on because he sits higher, Im almost tempted to buy a light bar and have it just for the idiots that drive with high beams on or high beam people to prove a point. The other ones that really grate on my nerves is the cars,suv and trucks running fog lights all the time! If I had to guess there is alot more of those out there then lifted trucks!

      • Thanks for your feedback. You are correct – fog lights should be properly installed and used only when foggy conditions are present.

    • Most new light bars do not come with covers and they say nothing about being legal or not to run I think auto parts stores should not be able to sell them without the mandatory covers to make them legal for the street