By Sanette Viljoen
The installation of additional LED lights on a vehicle is very trendy. They are seen on our roads every day. However, there are strict regulations which these lights must comply with before they can be considered roadworthy.
Regulation 177 of the Road Traffic Act 93 of 1996 prescribes that no-one may drive a motor vehicle on a public road with a spotlight that can be adapted by bending down the ray of light, which can radiate light in any direction. Adaptable spotlights may however be installed and used for official purposes on any ambulance; rescue vehicle; fire-fighting vehicle; police vehicle or traffic control vehicle; or mounted on a vehicle owned by a medical practitioner or veterinarian in the execution of their duties; or installed on any emergency vehicle in the execution of public essential duties.
According to the traffic and transport legislation, LED lights are generally not legal on private vehicles in South Africa. The standard principle is that all lights on your vehicle must be mounted at equal distances from the imaginary centre of your vehicle to make this vehicle roadworthy.
It is important to keep in mind that there is a set of SABS specification which have to be met when you want to add any additional lights to your vehicle. For example, it is stipulated that lights shall not be installed at a height above 1,4 metres. Lights on top of the scrollbars of a vehicle are therefore illegal. If lights are attached to a scrollbar on the roof of a vehicle, for example for hunting purposes, that vehicle is not allowed on a public road.
The act interprets spotlights, that is to say mounted LED lights, as extra/additional headlights on your vehicle. There may not be more than six (6) headlights on the front of any vehicle, including the standard lights. All lights on your vehicle must be working and in a good condition.
Extra spotlights can therefore be allowed on a private vehicle provided they meet very strict requirements. The lights must be SABS approved. Lights must be in a fixed position and not be able to be bent. The wiring must be linked with additional cycles and wires and have their own switches.
It is important that these extra spotlights be adapted to avoid blinding oncoming traffic. You must be able to dim these lights together with any other lights.
Regulation 160 of the Road Traffic Act also has to do with the headlights of a vehicle. This regulation states that each headlight must be adapted in such a way that it can illuminate an area in front of the relevant motor vehicle sufficiently for the driver or any other person to see an object as far as at least 100m in front of the vehicle. You must also be able to dim these lights with the press of a button.
Regulation 185 states that all lights that are not prescribed or authorised by virtue of the above and other regulations, are forbidden and therefore illegal. So, make sure that you meet all the necessary requirements and regulations when you mount additional lights on your vehicle.