Vehicle Spot Lights and LED Light Bars in Zimbabwe

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.”

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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:

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