Are Sidelights a Legal Requirement?

Are Sidelights a Legal Requirement?

Sidelights are often overlooked when it comes to automotive lighting. Most drivers are more concerned with ensuring their headlights, taillights, and brake lights are working properly. But if your sidelights are out, or if you’re considering modifying them, you’ll want to know the laws regarding sidelights.

What Are Sidelights?

Sidelights, just as the name suggests, are typically located on either side of the front of your vehicle. They are much smaller than headlights or taillights. Sidelights don’t do much to illuminate the road, but they do help other drivers spot your vehicle. Sidelights are especially helpful in rainy weather or at night, when visibility is lower.

In some vehicles, you’ll find sidelights contained within the headlight unit. On other vehicles, sidelights are located near the headlights but contained within their own casing. Sidelights are either white or yellow in colour. In Australia and the UK, sidelights are always white.

If you’ve never heard of sidelights before, you may be more familiar with the term “parking lights”. In Canada and the United States, this name is more commonly used. Sidelights and parking lights both refer to the same lights.

When to Use Sidelights

Sidelights are used for a wide variety of purposes. As their North American name tell us, these lights are often used when parking your vehicle. If you are parked on the side of the road, especially at night, turning on your sidelights will help other drivers spot you.

Some drivers leave their sidelights on all the time. This is a good idea in inclement weather, when it can be harder for other drivers to see your vehicle from a distance. If your car doesn’t have daytime running lights, leaving your sidelights on is a good idea.

Legal Requirements for Sidelights

Your vehicle probably came with sidelights installed, but you might be wondering if it’s okay to remove or alter them. In most cases, this is not legal. Having sidelights on your car is a legal requirement almost everywhere. In New Zealand, the United States, and Canada, sidelights are required to be either yellow or white in colour. In the UK and Australia, sidelights must be white to be in compliance with the law.

In some situations, you are legally required to turn your sidelights on. For example, in the UK, you must use your sidelights when parking on the side of the road at night.

Though you cannot remove your sidelights or change their colour, you can still upgrade your sidelights with better bulbs. The OSRAM Cool Blue Intense and the Phillips WhiteVision bulbs are both available in the W5W fitting, which will fit in most sidelights. These are street legal, but they have a whiter appearance than standard bulbs. If you’ve upgraded your headlights to HID bulbs or a halogen styling bulb, either of these will match perfectly.