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Behind-the-Wheel

Dear Cop - Dimming Beams

Please advise regarding the lawful requirements of dimming high beams and/or use of fog lamps when there is opposing traffic. Also, please comment on the acceptable courtesy practices.

A person who drives or operates a motor vehicle must not illuminate the upper beam of a headlamp if another motor vehicle is within a distance of 150 m from that vehicle, unless the driver has overtaken and passed the other vehicle, so that the high intensity portion of the beam does not strike or reflect into the eye of the other driver.

Multiple beam headlamps
Section 4.06 (1) of the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations indicates that the headlamps of a motor vehicle must function so that the driver may select lamps capable of displaying
(a) an upper beam of light which, regardless of the load on the vehicle, will reveal an object at a distance of 100 m, and
(b) a lower beam of light which, regardless of the load on the vehicle, will reveal an object at a distance of 30 m and the high intensity portion of the lower beam will not strike the eye of an oncoming driver.
(2) The lighting system must include a tell-tale lamp which clearly indicates when the upper beam of light is being displayed.
(3) Subsection (2) does not apply to a motor vehicle manufactured before January 1, 1940.
(4) If an automatic dimmer switch is installed, the device must have a manual control.
(5) A person who drives or operates a motor vehicle must not illuminate the upper beam of a headlamp if another motor vehicle is within a distance of 150 m from that vehicle, unless the driver has overtaken and passed the other vehicle, so that the high intensity portion of the beam does not strike or reflect into the eye of the other driver.
(6) Whenever a motor vehicle is parked or standing on a highway, the upper beam of the motor vehicle headlamps must not be illuminated.

A driver may only use fog lamps when the conditions on the roadway is such that the use of normal head lamps would be at a disadvantage.(IE: FOG) If a driver is using fog lights on a vehicle, the headlights cannot be on. It is either one or the other. A driver may not have fog lamps illuminated when visibility is clear on the roadways.

Fog lamps
Section 4.11 (1) of the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations indicates that a motor vehicle may be equipped with 2 fog lamps, mounted on the front of the vehicle below the headlamps, that are capable of displaying only white or amber light.
(2) Each fog lamp must be
(a) mounted not more than 30 cm below the headlamps, and
(b) adjusted and aimed so that, at a distance of 8 m from the lamp, the centre of the beam is at least 10 cm below the height of the fog lamp.
(3) The fog lamp wiring and switch must permit simultaneous operation of the parking lamps, tail lamps, licence plate lamp and, if required, clearance lamps.
(4) The operator of a vehicle may use fog lamps instead of headlamps when atmospheric conditions make the use of headlamps disadvantageous.

I also see many vehicles with auxiliary driving lamps. An auxiliary driving lamp must operate so that it is illuminated only when the upper beam of a multiple beam headlamp is illuminated.

Auxiliary driving lamps
Section 4.09 (1) of the Motor Vehicle Act Regulation indicates that a motor vehicle may be equipped with 2 auxiliary driving lamps, mounted on the front of the vehicle at a height of not less than 40 cm and not more than 1.06 m, that are capable of displaying only white light.
(2) An auxiliary driving lamp must be directed so that the high intensity portion of the beam is, at a distance of 8 m from the lamp, at least 12 cm below the height of the lamp and, at a distance of 25 m from the lamp, not higher than 1.06 m from the road surface.
(3) An auxiliary driving lamp must operate so that it is illuminated only when the upper beam of a multiple beam headlamp is illuminated.

The use of non-manufacturer lamps or colored lamps such as blue, green, yellow, etc., may not be used anywhere on a vehicle. The use of colored lamps under a vehicle chassis as seen in many Hollywood movies is also illegal. The lights on a vehicle must be of manufacturers specifications and meet Canadian SAE standards.

Constable R.A.(Richard) ASELTON
Central Okanagan Traffic Services - Media Liaison
Kelowna R.C.M.P. Detachment


More Behind the Wheel articles

About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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