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Q: My horsebox has just failed its plating on a new ruling — apparently, the reflectors halfway down each side of the lorry now have to be lights. The garage owner who failed my lorry was very embarrassed and said he has to fail lots of lorries now, as nobody knows about the new rule. When were the regulations changed and is anything else affected?

A: We spoke to the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA), which is responsible for setting guidelines on vehicle testing, and it confirmed that there was a change in the annual test requirements affecting side marker lamps, which became effective from 1 April.

It affects all heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) over 3,500kg gross vehicle weight, including horseboxes that are more than six metres long and registered on or after 1 April 1991.

To pass the HGV annual test, all relevant vehicles must now be fitted with at least two amber side marker lights on each side. This is in addition to the amber side reflectors already required for similar length lorries registered on or after 1 April 1986. The reflectors can be included as prisms in the lenses fitted to the marker lamps or as a separate fitment.

Vehicles registered before 1 April 1996 and trailers manufactured before 1 October 1995 are exempt from the new requirement provided they are fitted with all statutory lighting and signalling devices.

On the placement of the lights, VOSA’s Heavy Goods Vehicle Inspection Manual states:

  • the maximum distance of the foremost marker lamp lens edge should be four metres from the front of the vehicle or trailer, including any drawbar
  • the maximum distance of the rearmost marker lamp lens edge should be one metre from the rear of the vehicle or trailer
  • the maximum distance between the lens edges of the two adjacent side marker lamps should be three metres, although this can be increased to four metres if necessary.
  • the maximum height to the top edge of the side marker lamp lenses when the lorry is unladen and its tyres are at their correct pressures is 2,300mm. There is no minimum height requirement.

Depending on the amount of work necessary to fit a pair of side marker lights, the cost could be £150 to £200 from an auto electrician.

  • For more information (tel: 0870 606 0440) or visit www.vosa.gov.uk