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Vehicle Spot Lights and LED Light Bars in Zimbabwe (including User Feedback).

Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe (TSCZ), supported by ZRP, is justifiably campaigning against the abuse of vehicle spot lights and LED light bars in Zim. In coordinated statements at the end of July, 2021, comments from the two organisations included “police have warned that external headlights mounted on vehicles that have been blamed for causing fatal accidents are illegal.” “Through Statutory Instrument 129 of 2015 government banned the mounting of additional headlights by motorists additional headlights which some motorists are fitted on their cars cannot be dimmed compromising the vision for other drivers.”

Said Ernest Muchena, TCSZ Acting Director Operations: “The TSCZ is deeply concerned by additional headlights that are being fitted on vehicles by certain individuals and organisations. These are not even spotlights or fog-lights, they are additional headlights that are being used to violate the laws in Zimbabwe. Our major concern emanates from the fact some of these lights have contributed to quite a number of collisions which are induced by the intensity of the lights and they also responsible for blinding headlight glare which is so intense that some drivers end up being involved in accidents long after the culprit using those lights would have gone.”

Read the full story here https://www.chronicle.co.zw/extended-headlights-mounted-on-vehicles-illegal-police/

Since the launch of the campaign, motorists across the country are being threatened with arrest, or impounding of vehicles. Members of ZRP are referring to section 28 (spot lights) or section 66 (dangerous fittings or fixtures), both of SI 129/2015.

Excerpts from SI 129/2015 (published in December, 2015) and the Big Sky Cubbyhole notes (published in March, 2017):

Headlamps – SI 129/2015, Section 18

  • A motor vehicle may only drive on any road if equipped with lamps and be kept undamaged, properly secured and in an efficient operating condition at all times. Sect. 18(1)(a)
  • A motor vehicle will be equipped with two or four headlamps, attached to the front of the vehicle. Sect. 18(2)(a)
  • The headlamps shall be of equal luminous intensity and shall direct a steady beam of white light or amber light or any other light approved by Standards Association of Zimbabwe ahead of the vehicle. Sect. 18(3)(a)
  • Fitted at the same height on either side of the longitudinal axis of the vehicle. Sect. 18(3)(b)
  • The headlamps shall be capable of illuminating the road for a distance of at least 70 metres on main beam and 50 metres on dipped beam, directly in front of the vehicle. Sect. 18(5)(a)
  • Focused and directed to avoid dazzling the vision of the driver of any approaching vehicle on a level road. Sect. 18(5)(b)
  • Equipped with a control, operated by the driver, to extinguish or deflect downwards the headlamp beams to render them incapable of dazzling the vision of the driver of any approaching vehicle. Sect. 18(5)(c)

Spot lights – SI 129/2015, Section 28

  • A motor vehicle may be equipped with not more than two spot lights. Sect. 28(1)
  • To be fitted at a height lower than the headlamps (headlamps are referred to in section 18). Sect. 28(2)(a)
  • To be fitted at the front of the vehicle and focused to avoid dazzling oncoming drivers. Sect. 28(2)(b)
  • A spot light fitted to a vehicle and used solely for the purpose of “hunting, searching and night repair work” may be fitted above the height of the headlamps. Sect. 28(4)

Dangerous fittings or fixtures – SI 129/2015, Section 66

  • No person shall drive a motor vehicle or trailer on any road if anything is fitted or fixed to the vehicle or trailer in such a way as to endanger any person on or outside the vehicle in anyway.

The Opinion of Big Sky Supplies and our Advisors:

  • Up to 4 head lamps and 2 spot lights are specifically provided for in SI 129/2015 and their fitment and use is therefore legal – subject to compliance, e.g. being “in efficient operating condition” and spot lights are “fitted at the height lower than the head lamps.”
  • LED light bars are not covered in ANY regulations, including SI 129/2015. The law is therefore silent on the construction and use of these lights and ZRP is not in a position to penalise motorists for using them – subject to compliance with the Statutory Instrument, e.g. the LED light bar or spot light is “equipped with a control … to extinguish … the headlamp beams”.
  • There is no reference in SI 129/2015 to the dimensions or required watts of headlamps or spot lights. (For info: A watt (W) is a unit of measurement of power. Watts therefore refer to the power of your device).
  • Note the exemption: “A spotlight fitted to a motor vehicle and used solely for the purposes of hunting, searching and night repair work may be fitted above the (head) lamps”
  • Section 66 of SI 129/2015 refers to dangerous fittings or fixtures and is irrelevant to lights. ZRP is not in a position to penalise motorists for spot lights or LED light bars under section 66.

    Big Sky wholeheartedly supports the TSCZ campaign to improve road safety through the responsible use of headlamps and spotlights, however ZRP can only apply existing regulations. If the regulations do not exist or require updating, SI 129/2015 must be amended accordingly, with guidance from the Standards Association of Zimbabwe.

We trust these notes guide all concerned in improving safety on our roads whilst enjoying the journey,

Thank you and Take Care,

Sean Quinlan

18 August, 2021

PS: Further resources:

USER FEEDBACK:

Hi Sean, thanks for your efforts on the lighting issues and yes, light bars are a problem as quite often it is the only light source on a vehicle. The original law on spot lights was that they had to be connected through the dip switch which meant they were extinguished as soon as the lights were dipped. Just having a switch to extinguish the light is really not the answer – the dip switch is!
The mounting of the lights is also a grey area as it is written – define ” mounting “! Even if the lights are mounted below the bumper, they can still be set to shine in the face of oncoming traffic! Overloaded vehicles on dip are also a problem as the lights still shine in the face of oncoming traffic!
It is a complex issue and can ONLY be addressed by night time operations and educational programmes as so many motorists don’t even know how to dip their lights ??.
Removing light bars is a start but so far to go!!

(Author: RS, 8 September, 2021)

Thanks for the email, I have several vehicles fitted with led bars and spot lights, at great expense, so I don’t know how one can agree with either ZRP or TSCZ in any form in relation to this latest knee jerk reaction from the vehicle authorities? With regard to night driving, perhaps there unaware of the dreadful state of our roads, which is compounded with zero lighting in most parts of Harare, let alone everywhere else throughout Zimbabwe, what else are we supposed to do in order to safe guard our families during night driving and poor visibility? Additionally, is all the scary cattle donkeys and other wild animals that wonder onto our roads at night. Our authorities need to plan before they simply decree!

The majority of oncoming vehicles at night, simply refuse to dip there lights, even when one applies continual full beam, but somehow they find there dip switch, instantaneously, when one simply flashes a light bar?

Yes there needs to be an understanding of when, and how a light bar can be safely used, am in full agreement of this. But am so tired of the continual poor planning and poor governance in relation to vehicle rules and regulation, one only has to look at the very recent past when everyone was made to purchase yellow reflective vests , fire extinguishers that never worked, the insane red & white reflectors, that are so out dated with today’s vehicles, that have reflectors inbuilt into the front and rear lights. Look at all the money wasted by the vehicle authorities on number plates. Again and again the driving public are at whims of individuals that refer to a high way code and vehicle regulations from the 1960’s. Perhaps they have not noticed that life and technology has moved on (since) the 120Y and the 404?

Government authorities, who should plan and make rules and regulations, that form driving laws, are paid by tax payers and the licence paying driving public, who are fatigued by the constant harassment at check points manned by undisciplined police officers simply looking for bribes. If they want to be taken seriously then, plan strategize and formalize proper concise rules and regulations, that are cognisant and reflect of the modern age.

(Author: JB, 7 September, 2021)

Thank you for your email, and all the hours you put in doing this community work!

I would like to suggest that the “public” leaning towards the ZRPs opinion is possibly the keyboard warriors of our society? Some of us are strongly pro lightbars, but choose not to argue or comment on Facebook posts, as it only creates drama and unnecessary spats. Although I have come close to commenting on this issue!

I have had a light bar fitted since 2014, (below the headlights, connected into high beam) This light bar has saved my life on several occasions. (Not exaggerating for effect) While I understand there are people who are abusing the light bars, I believe regulation is the solution. Here are my thoughts:

  1. These lightbars are legal in the first world, although I am not aware of the regulations around it.
  2. Many vehicles in ZW are not adequately maintained and it is a common occurrence to come up behind a vehicle with no rear lights or vehicle with 1 headlight.
  3. The fences along our highways are in a poor state of repair in many places, often you find livestock in the road.
  4. Poor road markings along our highways make night driving more dangerous too.
  5. The lightbar and spotlight abusers who choose not to dip their lights to oncoming traffic high beam flash often dip to a light bar.

The list I’m sure goes on. I believe lightbars should be legal in Zimbabwe of all places! The roads will be more dangerous without them. I wanted to share my 2c so you know there are people out there who are pro light bars but not interested in Facebook disputes.

(Author: SP, 7 September, 2021)