Road Vehicles Lighting & Towing
The Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989 regarding exemptions to obligatory lighting for vehicles towing, vehicles being towed or broken down vehicles come under the following:
- Vehicles which are towing - Regulation 6(1) and (6)
- Vehicles which are being towed - Regulation 6(5)
- Broken down vehicles - Regulation 6(7)
For a list of the main requirement exceptions for other motor vehicles and trailers, please see the Requirements page within this section.
Exemptions - Vehicles towing or being towed
6 (1) No motor vehicle first used before 1st April 1986 and no pedal cycle or trailer manufactured before 1st October 1985 is required by regulation 18 to be fitted with any rear position lamp, stop lamp, rear direction indicator, rear fog lamp or rear reflector whilst a trailer fitted with any such lamp or reflector is attached to its rear.
(2) No trailer manufactured before 1st October 1985 is required by regulation 18 to be fitted with any front position lamp whilst being drawn by a passenger vehicle.
(3) No trailer is required by regulation 18 to be fitted with any stop lamp whilst being drawn by a vehicle which is not required by regulation 18 to be fitted with any such lamp.
(4) Paragraph (3) shall apply respectively to rear fog lamps and direction indicators as it applies to stop lamps.
(5) No trailer manufactured before 1st October 1990 is required by regulation 18 to be fitted with any stop lamp or direction indicator whilst being drawn by a motor vehicle fitted with one or two stop lamps and two or more direction indicators if the dimensions of the trailer are such that when the longitudinal axes of the drawing vehicle and the trailer lie in the same vertical plane such stop lamps and at least one direction indicator on each side of the vehicle are visible to an observer in that vertical plane from a point 6 metres behind the rear of the trailer whether it is loaded or not.
(6) No rear marking is required to be fitted to any vehicle by regulation 18 if another vehicle in a combination of which it forms part would obscure any such marking.
(7) Where a broken-down vehicle is being drawn by another vehicle;
(a) Regulations 18 and 23 shall not apply to the broken-down vehicle between sunrise and sunset, and
(b) between sunset and sunrise those regulations shall apply to the broken-down vehicle only in respect of rear position lamps and reflectors
(8) The references in paragraphs (3) and (4) to a vehicle which is required to be fitted with a lamp shall be construed as if paragraph (1) did not affect.
7 (1) Regulation 18 does not apply to a home forces' vehicle or a vehicle in the service of a visiting force or of a headquarters whilst being used:
(a) in connection with training which is certified in writing for the purposes of this regulation by a person duly authorised in that behalf to be training on a special occasion and of which not less than 48 hours' notice has been given by that person to the chief officer of police of every police area in which the place selected for the training is wholly or partly situate; or
(b) on manoeuvres within such limits and during such period as may from time to time be specified by Order in Council under the Manoeuvres Act 1958 (https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Eliz2/7-8/7/contents).
(2) Where not less than 6 nor more than 12 vehicles being home forces' vehicles or vehicles of a visiting force or a headquarters are proceeding together in a convoy on tactical or driving exercises which are authorised in writing by a person duly authorised in that behalf, and of which not less than 48 hours' notice in writing has been given by that person to the chief officer of police of every police area through which it is intended that the convoy shall pass and the interval between any two vehicles in such convoy does not exceed 20 metres.
(a) Front position lamps shall be required only on the vehicle leading the convoy; and
(b) rear position lamps shall be required only on the rearmost vehicle provided that every other vehicle in the convoy carries a bright light under the vehicle illuminating either a part of the vehicle or anything attached to the vehicle or the road surface beneath the vehicle, in such a manner that the presence of the vehicle can be detected from the rear
(3) No lamp is required to be fitted to any home forces' vehicle or any vehicle in the service of a visiting force or of a headquarters if the vehicle is constructed or adapted for combat and is such that compliance with these provisions is impracticable and it is fitted with two red rear position lamps and two red rear retro-reflectors when on a road between sunset and sunrise. Such lamps and reflectors need not meet any of the requirements specified in Schedules 10 and 18.
(4) Part II of these Regulations does not apply to a vehicle in the service of a visiting force or of a headquarters if the vehicle complies in every respect with the requirements as to lighting equipment and reflectors relating thereto and contained in a Convention referred to in regulation 5.
Special Concessions for Towed Trailers
The following are the concessions as per The Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989 6 and 7.
An agricultural vehicle, a works truck or engineering plant first used before 1 April 1986
A vehicle first used before 1 January 1940
A home forces vehicle or trailer;
A vehicle or trailer constructed or adapted for:
- firefighting or fire salvage;
- servicing or controlling aircraft;
- heating and dispensing tar or other material for the construction or maintenance of roads; or
- transporting two or more vehicles or vehicle bodies or two or more boats
A trailer manufactured before 1 August 1982 of unladen weight not exceeding 1,020 k
A trailer of a maximum gross weight not exceeding 3,500 kgAn agricultural vehicle, a works trailer or engineering plant
A trailer drawn by a bus
A trailer constructed or adapted for carrying asphalt or macadam, being mixing or drying plant, or heating and dispensing tar or other material for the construction or maintenance of roads.
Rear markings may be fitted optionally ONLY to exempt vehicles.
The following provides guidance and further information.
The Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989