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New rule to improve vehicle lighting

Date 10 December 2004

New rule to improve vehicle lighting

A new Land Transport Rule aimed at improving the safety of vehicle lighting equipment used on New Zealand's roads has been signed by Minister for Transport Safety Harry Duynhoven.

As well as covering mandatory vehicle lighting requirements, Land Transport Rule: Vehicle Lighting 2004 (the Vehicle Lighting Rule) sets out what additional lighting is permitted on vehicles and how lights should be fitted in order to prevent them from causing a hazard to other road users.

Director of Land Transport David Wright said while inadequate lighting can impair driver visibility, excessive lighting can be just as dangerous.

"If there are too many lights on a vehicle or they are positioned wrongly, this can dazzle or distract other road users," Mr Wright said.

Crash statistics indicate there are significant safety risks associated with inadequate, incorrectly-fitted or excessive vehicle lighting. From 1997 to 2003, problems with vehicle lighting equipment contributed to 441 injury crashes and 35 fatal crashes.

The rule, which comes into force on 27 February 2005, allows for the use of new lighting technology that is not covered under current legislation. It also controls the selection and fitting of cosmetic lights (optional lights mainly used to decorate a vehicle).

Mr Wright said the rule took a moderate approach to cosmetic lighting by restricting its use rather than banning it altogether.

While many vehicles will already meet the requirements of the Vehicle Lighting Rule when it takes effect in February, some may need to have the angle of their dipped beam headlights re-aligned when they go in for their next warrant of fitness (WoF) inspection. This is a relatively quick and simple procedure, and is routinely carried out as part of WoF inspections currently (as headlamps go out of alignment from time to time). Other legal lighting requirements are relaxed in the new rule - for example allowing a broader range of lights to be used by cyclists, and allowing heavy vehicles and agricultural vehicles to have additional lights, such as extra brake and indicator lights at the top of the vehicle.

More detailed information on the rule is available at www.landtransport.govt.nz/rules/q-and-a/vehicle-lighting-2004.html or by phoning the Land Transport New Zealand helpdesk on 0800 699 000.

ENDS


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