Are vans actually allowed to have yellow lights on their roofs?
Have you ever noticed a rugged pickup truck with a row of semi-truck style yellow running lights on its roof? This popular accessory is actually not legal in all fifty states; California lawmakers are concerned motorists will confuse yellow markers with police lights. At the same time pick up trucks are widening, and federal law requires many trucks to be equipped with factory amber running lights. Automakers have come up with a surprising compromise.
Why do semi-trailers have yellow position lights?
Federal law requires all vehicles over 80 inches in width to be equipped with amber running lights. This includes lights on the outside corners of the vehicle and a row of five position lights placed as high as possible on the roof of the vehicle.
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Since most semi-trailers and dump trucks are over 80 inches wide, they are all equipped with running lights. These lights serve two purposes. Lights on the outer corners indicate exactly the width of the oncoming vehicle. The lights on the roof just indicated that an extra large vehicle was approaching you.
These clearance lights are required in all 50 states. Interestingly, the official width of a vehicle does not include mirrors or other accessories or running boards that do not extend beyond the mirrors.
Why do some van owners add yellow roof lights?
Semi-truck style marker lights have been a popular aftermarket accessory for pickup trucks for years. They can make pickup trucks easier to spot on the highway. They also make light trucks look a bit more like heavy semis.
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Automakers have begun offering amber clearance lights as a factory-installed option on heavy-duty pickup trucks. General Motors offers a clearance light upgrade on its Silverado and Sierra heavy-duty trucks that are equipped with dual rear tires.
Is it illegal to install amber position lights on regular trucks?
There is no clear consensus on the legality of installing semi-truck style markers on a regular-width pickup truck. Some people have speculated that this could be considered “warping” of the width of the vehicle. That said, California is the only state to have passed a law expressly prohibiting it.
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California Vehicle Code 27606 prohibits having a light bar “mounted on the roof of a vehicle…that emits amber, red, or blue, or any combination of these lights.” According Talking about van, this law aims to keep accessories that can be confused with police lights away from civilian vehicles. According to California, these accessories include amber-colored running lights.
General Motors abides by the California law prohibiting amber marker lights on regular vehicles. If you order a heavy-duty GMC Sierra or Chevy Silverado in California, you cannot configure it with amber marker lights.
Do wide vans need amber position lights?
Several automakers manufacture off-road pickup trucks with wheel spacers that are wider than 80 inches. These include the Ram 1500 TRX, F-150 Raptor and Toyota Tundra TRD Pro. All of these trucks are equipped with amber corner marker lights and a row of “top” marker lights located in their grille.
Because these vehicles are wider than 80 inches, the federal government requires them to have amber running lights to warn oncoming motorists. Although these three trucks all had corner lights, their top lights were mounted lower than normal.
While this placement of marker lights in the grille isn’t technically “as high as it gets,” federal regulators let it slide. That may be because it honors California’s insistence that automakers and vehicle owners should avoid roof lights that could be mistaken for police lights.
Then see the best pickup truck ladder racks or find out how to install position lights on your truck in the video below:
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