This rule sets out standards and safety requirements for lighting equipment that is fitted to a vehicle (including a pedal cycle), to allow the vehicle to be operated safely and not endanger the safety of other road users.
The rule is available in consolidated format (ie, a full, up-to-date, version of the rule including all its amendments) or as the original, unamended rule with separate amendment rules. Choose the option that best suits your needs from the list below.
To access the consolidated version of the rule (available only in PDF format), click on ‘Consolidation’ below.
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The Land Transport Rule: Vehicle Lighting 2004 (Vehicle Lighting Rule) covers all motor vehicles and also includes bicycles. Most of these vehicles will already meet lighting requirements under existing law.
The rule comes into force on 27 February 2005.
Crash statistics indicate that there are significant safety risks associated with inadequate or missing lights, or lights that dazzle other road users. From 1997 to 2003, problems with vehicle lighting equipment contributed to 441 injury crashes and 35 fatal crashes. These statistics reflect the results of international research, which shows that, although inadequate lighting can make it difficult for the driver to see ahead, excessive lighting or lights that are too bright can also be dangerous because they can dazzle other road users and stop drivers from seeing objects on the road. Vehicle lighting needs to allow drivers to see the road ahead, as well as making vehicles clearly visible to other road users without dazzling, confusing or distracting them. The Vehicle Lighting Rule addresses these issues and reflects new developments in lighting technology.
Lighting requirements are currently covered in the Traffic Regulations 1976 (Part VII), the Transport (Vehicle Standards) Regulations 1990, and in notices in the New Zealand Gazette.
Vehicle lights are inspected as part of the warrant of fitness (WoF) and certificate of fitness (CoF) regimes.
The Vehicle Lighting Rule sets out requirements for ensuring vehicle lighting is appropriate and correctly positioned so that it doesn’t dazzle or distract other road users, while the Road User Rule requires you to operate vehicle lighting in such a way as not to dazzle or distract.
All new and newly imported used vehicles will already comply with the Vehicle Lighting Rule. However, if you are purchasing a vehicle from a previous owner, you should check to see if the vehicle has had lamps replaced or additional lamps fitted. A garage or WoF inspector can confirm whether extra lamps have been fitted and whether they comply with the rule.
If you’re considering fitting additional lamps, it is the responsibility of vehicle lighting retailers to sell you lamps that can legally be fitted to the car for the purpose they are intended (as long as you advise the retailer of the purpose for which you intend to use them). Any person fitting lights on a vehicle (whether an individual or a garage) must ensure that they are fitted correctly, and that their fitting is allowed under the Vehicle Lighting Rule.
More information on vehicle lighting safety is available in NZ Transport Agency’s factsheet on vehicle lighting – available here or by calling 0800 699 000.
The rule also consolidates, updates and clarifies previous legislation regarding lights.
Cosmetic lights are additional lights used mainly to decorate a vehicle and make it more eye-catching. They are often neon lights and come in different colours such as blue and purple. Generally, these lights are placed on the front of, or under the vehicle. Cosmetic lights don’t serve any safety function and are not manufactured to standards, so there is no way of being sure they are safe to use.
No, cosmetic lights are not being banned but there are now controls on where they can be fitted to vehicles. The rule aims for a good balance between allowing vehicle owners the freedom to use these lights and protecting the safety of other road users.
If they are fitted in certain positions, they can shine into the eyes of other drivers and dazzle or distract them. They can also confuse other road users if they are mistaken for functional lights such as tail lights, which convey a message (eg, red lights show where the back of the vehicle is).
The Vehicle Inspection Requirements Manual contains comprehensive information for people wanting to fit additional lights on their vehicle. NZ Transport Agency has also produced a new brochure Get your lights right, which summarises fitting and usage requirements for each type of light.
Vehicle owners can check the legality of the lights on their vehicles during their regular WoF and CoF inspections. For general advice on how to avoid dazzling and distracting other road users, see NZ Transport Agency’s factsheet on vehicle lighting, available here or by calling 0800 699 000.
A copy of the Vehicle Lighting Rule is available here.
The rule covers:
They will be tested during regular WoF and CoF inspections. If you want to view the technical details of this, see the Vehicle inspection requirements manual, which is available on the NZ Transport Agency website in the Resources & manuals section.
This procedure is routinely carried out as part of current WoF inspections (as headlamps go out of alignment from time to time). Discussions with the vehicle inspection and repair industries confirm that in most cases this is a simple and quick procedure and is often done as a courtesy at no extra charge.
More kinds of cycle lights will be permitted under the new rule. (For further information, see Where can I get a copy of the rule and more information? )
Because there are restrictions on the way that cosmetic lights can be fitted to a vehicle, some may need to be removed or positioned in a way that doesn’t distract or confuse other road users (ie they must point downwards, and not out from the front or back of the vehicle). There are diagrams in the rule which clearly show how these lights must be fitted.
For most vehicle owners there are unlikely to be any additional costs. In some cases, there may be a small one-off cost to re-align the headlights to new specifications - however initial discussions with the vehicle inspection and repair industries confirm that in most cases this is a simple and quick procedure which is often done as a courtesy at no extra charge. Also, a small number of vehicle owners may need to remove or reposition non-compliant lights that are currently fitted to their vehicle, although owners can usually do this themselves at no cost.
The Police, who carry out regular roadside checks, and agents who carry out WoF and CoF inspections.
Yes. There were two rounds of consultation. A preliminary draft of the rule was released in September 2000 for comment by groups and individuals that had registered an interest in the rule. A second draft was released for public comment in November 2003. The submissions received in both rounds of consultation were taken into account in redrafting the rule.
Most of the submissions wanted the use of cosmetic lights controlled so that they didn’t dazzle or distract other road users.
No. This is covered in the Road User Rule. The Lighting Rule covers the ‘technical’ aspects of vehicle lighting equipment, eg, how a light should be fitted. Both these rules come into force on 27 February 2005.
They won’t be able to get a WoF or CoF. If they are caught by the Police in a vehicle that is not up to WoF or CoF standards, they could have their WoF or CoF revoked or be fined.
This rule (and other published Land Transport Rules) can be purchased from selected Bennetts, Paper Plus and Whitcoulls retailers, and other retailers that sell government legislation. Alternatively, a copy can be obtained by contacting the printers and distributors of rules, Wickliffe Limited, on Freephone 0800 226 440. Final rules are available on our website.
Last updated: 28 February 2005