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TSEI sheds light on use of supplementary trailer lighting

An example of supplementary lighting along the top of a trailer.

The Transportation Safety Equipment Institute (TSEI) is working to bring clarity to the allowance of supplemental lighting on the rear of trailers.

Trucking fleets and OEMs are increasingly interested in adding auxiliary lighting across the top edge of the rear of the trailer, the organization announced. This has led to confusion as to what is and isn’t allowed under applicable regulations. TSEI is now working with the industry and regulators to ensure the regulations are well understood.

Specifically, many users are looking to add high-mounted auxiliary turn and stop lamps on trailers, according to Brad Van Riper, chairman of the government relations committee with TSEI and senior vice-president/chief technology officer with Truck-Lite.

An example of supplementary lighting along the top of a trailer.

An example of supplementary lighting along the top of a trailer.

These lights provide greater visibility for following motorists but do not replace existing lighting requirements.

The use of such high-mounted lights is applicable, as long as the minimum federal standards established by FMVSS No. 108 and FMCSR Part 393 are adhered to. Put more simply, TSEI says the following standards must be complied with:

  • Required lighting devices are installed per the requirements of the standard;
  • The installed supplemental or auxiliary lighting adds to or supplements the required lighting devices;
  • The supplemental lighting does not impair the effectiveness of the required devices;
  • The supplemental lighting is not to be installed in a manner that would cause confusion (ie. no strobing, supplemental, red stop lamps in jurisdictions that do not allow them).

“It’s critical that in meeting this request for better visibility during the stop function, we do not reduce the effectiveness of the primary function for the device at its particular location,” explained Kristen Goodson, TSEI president and director of product management at Peterson Manufacturing Company. “TSEI members have been working to produce lighting solutions that provide the optimal balance between the primary function of the device and it’s advanced warning capabilities.”

Although some have expressed concern about how new supplemental lighting configurations may be treated during roadside inspections, TSEI learned that roadside enforcement understands only required lamps must be operational.

TSEI says high-mounted auxiliary turn or stop lamps are enhancements that can increase safety, providing that care is taken by fleets and OEMs who are implementing them to follow these guidelines and comply with the regulations. If so, their presence on vehicles should not negatively impact the good CSA scores of conscientious drivers and fleets, TSEI contends.

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