Vehicle spotlights and the law

Ensure you are compliant with vehicle spotlight laws

Reuben Van Niekerk
vehicle spotlights
vehicle lights
car spotlights

Before fitting spotlights to your vehicle ensure that they are mounted in compliance with the law.

According to legislation, no spotlight may be mounted higher than 1,4 metres above ground level – so lights which are attached to roof racks on 4x4 vehicles are illegal, according to experts.


Further to that, the law stipulates that not more than six headlights may be fixed to a vehicle and that each should be equidistant from the vehicle’s centre line. Lights which cross the centre line – such as those in an LED light bar – are illegal. And since spotlights are regarded as headlights, make sure that you do not have a total of more than six across the front of your vehicle, including the original factory-fitted clusters.


Also, bear in mind that spotlights that emit white light – or those with a blue tinge – are permitted only at the front of a vehicle, while spotlights that emit red light are allowed only at the rear. So the backward facing white spotlight you’ve fixed to your 4x4 to illuminate your camp site in the bush is illegal.


Even if spotlights are disconnected or covered when your vehicle is used on public roads they remain illegal. The law stipulates that all lights fixed to a vehicle must be in working order – you have no option but to turn them on if ordered to do so by a traffic officer.


The South African National Standards (SANS) 1 376 deals with the actual light emitted and in the direction that it is emitted. What it basically means is that just like your headlights are adjusted for left and right hand drive markets respectively, as to not blind oncoming motorists, additional lights need to adhere to these same specifications, which the light bars for example do not.


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