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Vehicles (Lighting)

Volume 526: debated on Wednesday 7 April 1954

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asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation when he intends to exercise the powers given to him by Sections 1, 2, 3 and 4, respectively, of the Road Transport Lighting Act, 1953.

I am proposing to exercise my powers under the Road Transport Lighting Act, 1927, as amended by Sections 1 and 2 of the Road Transport Lighting Act, 1953, which relate to reflectors and rear lamps respectively, from various dates beginning on 1st October, 1954. As from 1st October, 1954, the carrying of reflectors will become obligatory for all vehicles, including cycles. The provisions relating to rear lamps will become obligatory for new vehicles on the same date, for existing pedal cycles and motor assisted cycles on 1st October, 1955, and for other existing vehicles on 1st October, 1956.As manufacturers and users of vehicles may be in some difficulty if they do not know in the near future what their obligations may be as from 1st October, 1954, I have decided to announce in advance the intended effect of the regulations by issuing full details, including the operative dates, in a Press notice which may serve as general guidance to all concerned, before the regulations are actually laid before Parliament and come into force. Copies of this will be available to hon. Members in the Vote Office.

The proposals relate to the positions in which the lamps or reflectors will be required on vehicles, as from the dates and in respect of the classes of vehicles indicated. They also relate to the sizes of reflectors and lamps, and, in some instances, the wattage of lamps. I intend, at a later stage, to prescribe in more detail the performance to be complied with by the reflectors and rear lamps of all vehicles, including cycles, but in view of the time factor this will not be possible in the revision of the regulations now in progress.

As a temporary measure it is proposed that the present legal requirements for reflectors, as laid down in the Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations, 1950, should be maintained, but that the size should be increased. A fuller technical specification is being prepared, which is to form the basis of what will eventually be laid down by regulation. I shall be glad to supply all manufacturers with copies of this specification, and I hope that, in anticipation of the regulations, reflectors manufactured and supplied in this country will have a performance at least equal to it.

A technical specification is also being prepared for rear lamps for motor vehicles, which again I will supply to all manufacturers, since it is to form the basis of what will eventually be laid down by regulations. A similar specification is also being prepared for cycle lamps.

The requirements as to reflectors in the present regulations do not represent a high performance by modern technical standards. It is not my present intention to make illegal, at least for several years, reflectors of the required size which comply in other respects with the present regulations, but may not comply with the full technical specification as eventually revised. I do not propose to make illegal rear lamps which comply with the requirements as to size and power which I am about to lay down, even after these requirements have been replaced, as I contemplate, by subsequent technical specifications. I do, however, sincerely hope that manufacturers and users will both endeavour during the transition period to maintain the highest standards of vehicle lighting which are practicable.

Regulations under Section 3 of the Road Transport Lighting Act, 1953, which deals with projecting and overhanging loads, will be prepared as soon as possible. In the meanwhile, I draw attention to the importance of the proper lighting of such loads, and to the necessity for ensuring that rear lamps and reflectors are at no time obscured by the tailboards, doors or ramps of a vehicle, especially when stationary.

Regulations under Section 4 of the Road Transport Lighting Act, 1953, which relates to reversing lights were made on 22nd October, 1953, and came into operation on 1st November, 1953.