These regulations replace the previous versions and came in to force 1st November 1989.

Below are some definitions (with irrelevant bits ommitted) that you might find useful, although I've tried to cover as much of this as I can in the relevant pages...

  • “The Act” The Road Traffic Act 1988.
  • “The Construction and Use Regulations” The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986(4)
  • “The Designation of Approval Marks Regulations” The Motor Vehicles (Designation of Approval Marks) Regulations 1979(5)
  • “Angles of visibility” A requirement for a lamp or reflector fitted to a vehicle to have specified horizontal and vertical angles of visibility is a requirement that at least 50 per cent of the apparent surface must be visible from any point within those angles when every door, tailgate, boot lid, engine cover, cab or other movable part of the vehicle is in the closed position.
  • “Apparent surface” For any given direction of observation, is the orthogonal projection of a light-emitting surface in a plane perpendicular to the direction of observation and touching that surface.
  • “Breakdown vehicle” A vehicle used to attend an accident or breakdown or to draw a broken down vehicle.
  • “Caravan” A trailer which is constructed (and not merely adapted) for human habitation.
  • “Circuit-closed tell-tale” A light showing that a device has been switched on.
  • “Combat vehicle” A vehicle of a type described at item 1, 2 or 3 in column 1 of Schedule 1 to the Motor Vehicles (Authorisation of Special Types) General Order 1979(6)
  • “Daytime hours” The time between half an hour before sunrise and half an hour after sunset.
  • “Dim-dip device” A device which is capable of causing a dipped-beam headlamp to operate at reduced intensity.
  • “Dipped beam” A beam of light emitted by a lamp which illuminates the road ahead of the vehicle without causing undue dazzle or discomfort to oncoming drivers or other road users.
  • “Direction indicator” A lamp on a vehicle used to indicate to other road users that the driver intends to change direction to the right or to the left.
  • “Emergency vehicle” A motor vehicle of any of the following descriptions–
    • (a)a vehicle used for fire brigade, ambulance or police purposes;
    • (b)an ambulance, being a vehicle (other than an invalid carriage) which is constructed or adapted for the purposes of conveying sick, injured or disabled persons and which is used for such purposes;
    • (c)a vehicle owned by a body formed primarily for the purposes of fire salvage and used for those or similar purposes;
    • (d)a vehicle owned by the Forestry Commission or by a local authority and used from time to time for the purposes of fighting fires;
    • (e)a vehicle owned by the Secretary of State for Defence
    • (f)a vehicle primarily used for the purposes of the Blood Transfusion Service provided under the National Health Service Act 1977(7) or under the National Health Service (Scotland) Act 1978(8);
    • (g)a vehicle used by Her Majesty’s Coastguard or Coastguard Auxiliary Service for the purposes of giving aid to persons in danger or vessels indistress on or near the coast;
    • (h)a vehicle owned by the British Coal Corporation and used for the purposes of rescue operations at mines;
    • (i)a vehicle owned by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and used for the purposes of launching lifeboats; and
    • (j)a vehicle primarily used for the purposes of conveying any human tissue for transplanting or similar purposes.
  • “End-outline marker lamp” A lamp fitted near the outer edge of a vehicle in addition to the front and rear position lamps to indicate the presence of a wide vehicle.
  • “Extreme outer edge”  In relation to a side of a vehicle, the vertical plane parallel with the longitudinal axis of the vehicle, and coinciding with its lateral outer edge, disregarding the projection of–
    • (a)so much of the distortion of any tyre as is caused by the weight of the vehicle,
    • (b)any connections for tyre pressure gauges,
    • (c)any anti-skid devices which may be mounted on the wheels,
    • (d)rear-view mirrors,
    • (e)lamps and reflectors,
    • (f)customs seals affixed to the vehicle, and devices for securing and protecting such seals, and
    • (g)special equipment.
  • “Front fog lamp” A lamp used to improve the illumination of the road in front of a motor vehicle in conditions of seriously reduced visibility.
  • “Front position lamp” A lamp used to indicate the presence and width of a vehicle when viewed from the front.
  • “First used” References to the date of first use of a vehicle shall be construed in accordance with regulation 3 (3) of the Construction and Use Regulations.
  • “Hazard warning signal device” A device which is capable of causing all the direction indicators with which a vehicle, or a combination of vehicles, is fitted to operate simultaneously.
  • “Headlamp” A lamp used to illuminate the road in front of a vehicle and which is not a front fog lamp.
  • “Headlamp levelling device” Either–
    • (a)an automatic headlamp levelling device by means of which the downward inclination of any dipped-beam headlamp is automatically maintained regardless of the load on the vehicle, or
    • (b)a manual headlamp levelling device by means of which the downward inclination of any dipped-beam headlamp may be adjusted by a manual control operable from the driving seat of the vehicle.
  • “Home forces” The naval, military or air forces of Her Majesty raised in the United Kingdom.
  • “Home forces' vehicle” A vehicle owned by, or in the service of, the home forces and used for naval, military or air force purposes.
  • “Hours of darkness” The time between half an hour after sunset and half an hour before sunrise.
  • “Illuminated area”  
    • The expression, in relation to a headlamp, front fog lamp and reversing lamp, in each case fitted with a reflector, means the orthogonal projection of the full aperture of the reflector on a plane (touching the surface of the lamp) at right angles to the longitudinal axis of the vehicle to which the lamp is fitted. If the light-emitting surface extends over only part of the full aperture of the reflector, then the projection of only that part shall be taken into account. In the case of a dipped-beam headlamp, the illuminated area is limited by the apparent trace of the cut-off on the lens.
    • The expression, in relation to any other lamp, means the part of the orthogonal projection of the light-emitting surface on a plane (touching the surface of the lamp) at right angles to the longitudinal axis of the vehicle to which it is fitted, the boundary of which is such that if the straight edge of an opaque screen touches it at any point 98 per cent of the total intensity of the light is shown in the direction parallel to the longitudinal axis of the vehicle. Accordingly, for the purposes of determining the lower, upper and lateral edges of the lamp, only a screen placed with its straight edge horizontally or vertically needs to be considered.
  • “Installation and performance requirements” In relation to any lamp, reflector, rear marking or device, the requirements specified in the Schedules to these Regulations relating to that lamp, reflector, rear marking or device.
  • “Light-emitting surface” In relation to a lamp, that part of the exterior surface of the lens through which light is emitted when the lamp is lit, and in relation to a retro reflector that part of the exterior surface of the retro reflector from which light can be reflected.
  • “Main beam” A beam of light emitted by a headlamp which illuminates the road over a long distance ahead of the vehicle.
  • “Matched pair” In relation to lamps, a pair of lamps in respect of which–
    • (a)both lamps emit light of substantially the same colour and intensity, and
    • (b)both lamps are of the same size and of such a shape that they are symmetrical to one another.
  • “Maximum distance from the side of the vehicle”  The expression means–
    • (a)in relation to a lamp fitted to a vehicle, the shortest distance from the boundary of the illuminated area to an extreme outer edge of the vehicle, and
    • (b)in relation to a retro reflector fitted to a vehicle, the shortest distance from the boundary of the reflecting area to an extreme outer edge of the vehicle.
  • “Maximum height above the ground” The height above which no part of the illuminated area in the case of a lamp, or the reflecting area in the case of a retro reflector, extends when the vehicle is at its kerbside weight and when each tyre with which the vehicle is fitted is inflated to the pressure recommended by the manufacturer of the vehicle.
  • “Minimum height above the ground” The height below which no part of the illuminated area in the case of a lamp, or the reflecting area in the case of a retro reflector, extends when the vehicle is at its kerbside weight and when each tyre with which the vehicle is fitted is inflated to the pressure recommended by the manufacturer of the vehicle.
  • “Obligatory” In relation to a lamp, reflector, rear marking or device, means a lamp, reflector, rear marking or device with which a vehicle, its load or equipment is required by these Regulations to be fitted.
  • “Operational tell-tale” A warning device readily visible or audible to the driver and showing whether a device that has been switched on is operating correctly or not.
  • “Pair” In relation to lamps, reflectors or rear markings means a pair of lamps, reflectors or rear markings, including a matched pair, one on each side of the vehicle, in respect of which the following conditions are met–
    • (a)each lamp, reflector or rear marking is at the same height above the ground, and
    • (b)each lamp, reflector or rear marking is at the same distance from the extreme outer edge of the vehicle.
    • In the case of an asymmetric vehicle, those conditions shall be deemed to be met if they are as near as practicable to being met.
  • “Rear fog lamp” A lamp used to render a vehicle more readily visible from the rear in conditions of seriously reduced visibility.
  • “Rear position lamp” A lamp used to indicate the presence and width of a vehicle when viewed from the rear.
  • “Rear retro reflector” A retro reflector used to indicate the presence and width of a vehicle when viewed from the rear.
  • “Rear registration plate lamp” A lamp used to illuminate the rear registration plate.
  • “Reflecting area”  In relation to a retro reflector fitted to a vehicle, the area of the orthogonal projection on a vertical plane (touching the surface of the reflector)–
    • (a)at right angles to the longitudinal axis of the vehicle of that part of the reflector designed to reflect light in the case of a front or a rear retro reflector, and
    • (b)parallel to the longitudinal axis of the vehicle of that part of the reflector designed to reflect light in the case of a side retro reflector.
  • “Reversing lamp” A lamp used to illuminate the road to the rear of a vehicle for the purpose of reversing and to warn other road users that the vehicle is reversing or about to reverse.
  • “Road clearance vehicle” A mechanically propelled vehicle used for dealing with frost, ice or snow on roads.
  • “Running lamp” A lamp (not being a front position lamp, an end-outline marker lamp, headlamp or front fog lamp) used to make the presence of a moving motor vehicle readily visible from the front.
  • “Separation distance” In relation to two lamps or two retro reflectors the expression means, except where otherwise specified, the shortest distance between the orthogonal projections in a plane perpendicular to the longitidunal axis of the vehicle of the illuminated areas of the two lamps or the reflecting areas of the two reflectors.
  • “Side marker lamp” A lamp fitted to the side of a vehicle or its load and used to render the vehicle more visible to other road users.
  • "Side retro reflector” A reflector fitted to the side of a vehicle or its load and used to render the vehicle more visible from the side.
  • “Special equipment” A movable platform fitted to a vehicle, the apparatus for moving the platform and any jacks fitted to the vehicle for stabilising it while the movable platform is in use.
  • “Special warning lamp” A lamp, fitted to the front or rear of a vehicle, capable of emitting a blue flashing light and not any other kind of light.
  • “Stop lamp” A lamp used to indicate to road users that the brakes of a vehicle or combination of vehicles are being applied.
  • “Trailer” A vehicle constructed or adapted to be drawn by another vehicle.
  • “Warning beacon” A lamp that is capable of emitting a flashing or rotating beam of light throughout 360° in the horizontal plane.
  • “Work lamp” A lamp used to illuminate a working area or the scene of an accident, breakdown or roadworks in the vicinity of the vehicle to which it is fitted.
  • (3) Material designed primarily to reflect light is, when reflecting light, to be treated for the purposes of these Regulations as showing a light, and material capable of reflecting an image is not, when reflecting the image of a light, to be so treated.
  • (4) In these Regulations a reference to one lamp, except in the case of a dipped-beam headlamp, a main-beam headlamp and a front fog lamp, includes any combination of two or more lamps, whether identical or not, having the same function and emitting light of the same colour, if it comprises devices the aggregate illuminated area of which occupies 60 per cent or more of the area of the smallest rectangle circumscribing those illuminated areas.
  • (5) In these Regulations a reference to two lamps includes–
    • (a)a single illuminated area which–
      • (i)is placed symmetrically in relation to the longitudinal axis of the vehicle,
      • (ii)extends on both sides to within 400 mm of the extreme outer edge of the vehicle,
      • (iii)is not less than 800 mm long, and
      • (iv)is illuminated by not less than two sources of light, and
    • (b)any number of illuminated areas which–
      • (i)are juxtaposed,
      • (ii)if on the same transverse plane have illuminated areas which occupy not less than 60 per cent of the area of the smallest rectangle circumscribing their illuminated areas,
      • (iii)are placed symmetrically in relation to the median longitudinal plane of the vehicle,
      • (iv)extend on both sides to within 400 mm of the extreme outer edge of the vehicle,
      • (v)do not have a total length of less than 800 mm, and
      • (vi)are illuminated by not less than two sources of light.
  • (6) Where a part fitted to a vehicle is required by these Regulations to be marked with a British Standard mark, the requirements shall not be regarded as met unless, in addition to being marked as required, the part complied with the relevant British Standard at the time when the part was first fitted to the vehicle.

Exemptions—General

  • (1) Where a provision is applied by these Regulations to a motor vehicle first used on or after a specified date it does not apply to any vehicle manufactured at least six months before that date.
  • (2) Where an exemption from, or a relaxation of, a provision is applied by these Regulations to a motor vehicle first used before a specified date it shall also apply to a motor vehicle first used on or after that date if it was manufactured at least six months before that date.
  • (3) Nothing in these Regulations shall require any lamp or reflector to be fitted between sunrise and sunset to–
    • (a)a vehicle not fitted with any front or rear position lamp,
    • (b)an incomplete vehicle proceeding to a works for completion,
    • (f)a vehicle drawn or propelled by hand.
  • (4) Without prejudice to regulation 16, for the purposes of these Regulations a lamp shall not be treated as being a lamp if it is–
    • (a)so painted over or masked that it is not capable of being immediately used or readily put to use; or
    • (b)an electric lamp which is not provided with any system of wiring by means of which that lamp is, or can readily be, connected with a source of electricity.
  • 5. Part II of these Regulations does not apply to–
    • (a)any vehicle having a base or centre in a country outside Great Britain from which it normally starts its journeys, provided that a period of not more than 12 months has elapsed since the vehicle was last brought into Great Britain;
    • (b)a visiting vehicle;
    • (d)a vehicle proceeding to a port for export, 
    • if in each case the vehicle or combination of vehicles complies in every respect with the requirements about lighting equipment and reflectors relating thereto contained in the Convention on Road Traffic concluded at Geneva on 19th September 1949(11) or the International Convention relating to Motor Traffic concluded at Paris on 24th April 1926(12).
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