- During the long, dark nights of winter, the Agricultural Engineers Association is urging all users of agricultural vehicles to ensure that they understand the rules around vehicle lighting and that their vehicles comply with them every time they take them on the road
They are also contacting manufacturers and dealers of agricultural vehicles to ensure that any Amber Warning Beacons fitted on the vehicles they manufacture, sell or service meet the requirements of the legislation.
Where they are required, Amber Warning Beacons are a useful aid to warn other road users of approaching hazards, but agricultural vehicles are increasingly being fitted with inappropriate unidirectional, amber flashing lights. These only emit light in one direction and are not permitted on the road under the vehicle lighting regulations, although they can be used off road.
As well as not being legal, unidirectional flashing amber lights can be dangerous due to potential confusion with and/or distraction from direction indicators. They are often brighter than the direction indicators and are sometimes fitted at a similar level. This can make it difficult for other drivers to see the direction indicators. Confusion of that kind has been a contributing factor in at least one fatal accident involving an agricultural vehicle.
So what exactly are the requirements for the installation & use of Amber Warning Beacons on agricultural vehicles?
When should they be used?
At least one warning beacon must be installed & used:
On any ‘slow’ motor vehicle (max speed ≤ 25 mph) or trailer drawn by it, when used on an unrestricted dual-carriageway road.
Note: The ‘motor vehicle’ must have four or more wheels
Amber warning beacons may also be used in the following circumstances, which often apply to agricultural vehicles:
- By any vehicle being used in connection with the escort of any vehicle, whilst travelling at a speed of ≤ 25 mph
- When it’s necessary or desirable to warn persons of the presence of the vehicle or a hazard on the road.
How should they be installed and operate?
Amber warning beacons must:
- Be mounted at least 1200 mm above the ground
- Be capable of emitting either a flashing or rotating beam of light throughout 360° in the horizontal plane.Unidirectional flashing amber warning lamps are NOT legal
- Emit light between 60 & 240 times per minute.The duration of the flashes and the intervals between them must be constant
- Be located so the light from at least one beacon is visible from any point around the vehicle or the (tractor-trailer-trailed implement) combination ….. from a ‘reasonable’ distance.