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Vehicle Light Requirements in Ontario – Part 2

Following up from our last post regarding vehicle light requirements we just started to look into vehicle light requirements for vehicles in Ontario.  Cars, trucks, motorcycles, and motorcycles with side cars all have specific requirements under the Highway Traffic Act.  Do you know what the requirements are for the type of vehicle that you drive?  Do you know when you need to use your vehicle’s lights?  Do you know whether or not you can modify them?  Are there specific requirements for commercial motor vehicles?  What about bicycles?

These are all very good questions to ask!  The answers to these questions could help you avoid getting into trouble with the police.  Once you’ve been charged by the police, it is up to you to protect your interests at court.  A conviction can result in court penalties as well as impact your driving record and insurance costs.  Very serious convictions on your driving record or repeated minor offences can result in licence suspensions and insurance problems.  Any time that you are charged by the police, it is important to know what you’ve been charged with and what your legal options are.

If you have a question that you don’t see answered, submit a blog question and we’ll either include it in a future article or respond to you directly.  It never hurts to ask questions.  That’s how you make informed decisions.  If you have already been charged by the police, you’ll need a quicker response to your questions.  If so, you can submit an online consultation request and one of our staff will contact you to go over your case history and details with you.  Last week’s article on vehicle light requirements went through a lot of good questions and answers, but there’s a lot more to discuss.

Let’s take a look!

Do I Have To Worry About My Lights If I’m Parked?

Generally, no.  But like many areas of law, that no is a qualified no.  Under Highway Traffic Act section 62(8) the following rules are set:

Lighted streets

(8) Subsection (6) does not apply to a motor vehicle parked on a highway and subsections (1), (2), (3), (10), (11), (13), (23), (24), (26) and (27) do not apply to a vehicle parked on a highway upon which the speed limit is not greater than 50 kilometres per hour and which is so lighted by the means of any system of street or highway lighting that the vehicle is clearly discernible within a distance of sixty metres.  R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 62 (8).

Let’s unpack that into more readily understandable terms.  

HTA section 62(6) deals with your ability to see other vehicles and pedestrians.  If your vehicle is parked, you don’t need to worry about the legal requirements of that section.

Subsections (1), (2), (3), (10), (11), (13), (23), (24), (26) and (27) of HTA section 62 respectively related to the following:

  • Light requirements for vehicles
  • Light requirements for motor cycles
  • Light requirements for motor cycles with a side car
  • Clearance lights for wide vehicles
  • Identification lights
  • Side marker lights
  • Lights on traction engines
  • Lights required on rear of trailer
  • Lights on vehicles, objects and contrivances over 2.6 metres in width
  • Lamps on all vehicles, except motor vehicles, etc.
  • Lights on farm tractors

These areas of law do not apply to a vehicle parked on a highway where the posted limit is no greater than 50 km/h and where the vehicle is clearly visible at a distance of 60m due to street lighting that is present.

Is There A Limit On How Bright Head Lights Can Be?

Yes.  We’ve all likely been in the situation where it is late at night and dark.  You’re driving along the road only to come face-to-face with or be followed by a vehicle with overly bright head lights.  It can certainly be annoying.  But is it illegal?  Highway Traffic Act section 62(9) limits the brightness of any lights on the front of a vehicle to no more than 300 candela:

Strength of front lamps

(9) No motor vehicle shall carry on the front thereof more than four lighted lamps that project a beam having an intensity of over 300 candela.  R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 62 (9).

This section of law also limits the number of forward facing lights to no more than 4.

What Are The Light Requirements For Wide Vehicles?

Under Highway Traffic Act section 62(10), extra wide vehicles are defined as being greater than 2.05 meters in width.  The lighting requirements in this section are:

Clearance lamps required on wide vehicles

(10) When on a highway at any time from one-half hour before sunset to one-half hour after sunrise and at any other time when, due to insufficient light or unfavourable atmospheric conditions, persons and vehicles on the highway are not clearly discernible at a distance of 150 metres or less,

(a) every commercial motor vehicle and trailer having a width at any part in excess of 2.05 metres, other than a truck tractor, shall carry, in addition to the lamps required by subsection (1), two lighted clearance lamps, one on each side of the front of the vehicle, which shall display an amber light, and two lighted clearance lamps, one on each side of the rear of the vehicle, which shall display a red light; or

(b) every truck tractor having a width at any part in excess of 2.05 metres shall carry, in addition to the lamps required by subsection (1), two lighted clearance lamps, one on each side of the front of the vehicle, which shall display an amber light, and one lighted clearance lamp on the left side of the rear of the vehicle, which shall display a red light,

and the Ministry may by regulation permit a reflector, approved by the Ministry, to be displayed in lieu of clearance lamps on the rear of the vehicle, and all the lamps shall be affixed so as to indicate the overall width of the vehicle.  R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 62 (10).

Definition

Highway Traffic Act Section 1(1):

commercial motor vehicle”, unless otherwise defined by regulation, means a motor vehicle having attached to it a truck or delivery body and includes an ambulance, a hearse, a casket wagon, a fire apparatus, a bus and a tractor used for hauling purposes on a highway; (“véhicule utilitaire”)

The first important requirement here is when the lighting requirements are in effect:

  • By at least a half hour before sunset
  • Until at least a half hour after sunrise, and,
  • When “insufficient light or unfavourable atmospheric conditions” results in people or vehicles not being clearly discernible within 150 meters.

There are two sets of requirements for wide vehicles:

  1. In addition to the basic lighting requirements in HTA s.62(1), any commercial motor vehicle (CMV) and trailer (other than a truck tractor) shall have an amber clearance light on the front left and front right of the vehicle and a red clearance light on the rear left and right of the vehicle.
  2. In addition to the basic lighting requirements in HTA s.62(1), a truck tractor shall have an amber clearance light on the front left and right of the vehicle and a single red clearance light on the rear left side of the vehicle.

There is a special allowance that the government may, by regulation and approval, permit a reflector to be used instead of rear clearance lights. 

What Are The Identification Light Requirements For A Commercial Motor Vehicle?

Commercial motor vehicles and public vehicles have specific requirements regarding identification lights.  These requirements are detailed under Highway Traffic Act section 62(11):

Identification lamps

(11) When on a highway at any time from one-half hour before sunset to one-half hour after sunrise and at any other time when, due to insufficient light or unfavourable atmospheric conditions, persons and vehicles on the highway are not clearly discernible at a distance of 150 metres or less, every commercial motor vehicle or combination of a commercial motor vehicle and a trailer having a length in excess of 9.2 metres or a width in excess of 2.05 metres shall carry three lighted lamps displaying green or amber lights at the front, except in the case of a public vehicle which shall display amber lights at the front, and three lighted lamps displaying red lights at the rear, and the lights of each colour shall be evenly placed not less than 150 millimetres nor more than 310 millimetres apart along a horizontal line as near the top of the commercial motor vehicle or combination of a commercial motor vehicle and a trailer as the permanent structure permits, and shall be visible for distances of 150 metres from the front and rear respectively of the commercial motor vehicle or combination of a commercial motor vehicle and a trailer.  R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 62 (11).

Like many other sections of the Highway Traffic Act dealing with vehicle lights, commercial motor vehicles and public vehicles are required to use their identification lights:

  • By at least a half hour before sunset
  • Until at least a half hour after sunrise, and,
  • When “insufficient light or unfavourable atmospheric conditions” results in people or vehicles not being clearly discernible within 150 meters.

Commercial motor vehicles included in this section are:

  • A commercial motor vehicle longer than 9.2 meters or wider than 2.05 meters
  • A commercial motor vehicle and trailer longer than 9.2 meters or wider than 2.05 meters

These commercial motor vehicles are required to have:

  • Three green or amber lights at the front of the vehicle (public vehicles must use amber lights)
  • Three red lights at the rear of the vehicle

These lights must be placed in a horizontal line near the top of the vehicle in such a way as to be:

  • Not less than 150 mm apart
  • Not more than 310 mm apart

The identification lights must be visible within at least 150 meters.

Is There An Identification Light Exemption If I’m Not Hauling A Trailer?

Yes.  Under Highway Traffic Act section 62(12) a truck tractor driven without a trailer or semi-trailer is not required to display the three red identification lights on the rear of the vehicle:

Rear identification lamps on tractor without trailer

(12) Despite subsection (11), a truck tractor driven on a highway without a trailer or semi-trailer is not required to carry the three red lamps displaying red lights to the rear.  R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 62 (12).

What Should I Do If I’m Charged By The Police?

Hopefully the information in our series about vehicle light requirements helps keeps you out of trouble with the police.  If you’ve been enjoying this series, make sure to read next week’s article where we’ll dig even deeper into this area of Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act.  If you have a question that you would like an answer to, submit a blog question and we’ll try to include it in a future article.  If you’ve got a question, no doubt others have the same question and will want to know the answer as well!

If you’ve already been charged by the police, you’re going to need much quicker answers.  If you’ve received a ticket, you will have a pending filing deadline with the court.  If the police have given you a summons, then you will already have a ‘first appearance’ court date scheduled that you or your legal representative must attend.  Commercial motor vehicle drivers, such as transport truck drivers, have to be especially careful of their driving record as it can impact their current employment or their ability to get new employment in the future. 

The easiest and generally most cost-effective way to protect yourself at court is to hire a licenced and experienced paralegal.  Paralegals know the law and the court system.  They are your legal representative in the court room to protect your rights and interests.  In the vast majority of cases where a paralegal has been retained, the defendant never has to file a court document or appear at court.  This can be a huge stress relief in an already stressful time.

Our friendly staff are here to help you.  We offer a no-cost, no-obligation initial consultation to talk with you and go through your case history and details.  Making informed decisions is important.  We can be reached via our toll-free number 1-844-647-6869, by email at info@otdlegal.ca, or by text at 226-240-2480.  You can also submit an online consultation request any time of day or night and one of our staff will contact you during regular business hours to assist you.

Posted under Professional Truck Drivers, Traffic Ticket Defence, Vehicle Maintenance

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