File # Cop Talk
2013-05-07 08:39 PDT

Corporal Chung, I have a number of questions relating to automobile lighting. What are the regulations now regarding fog lights and the use of them? As to driving lights, I know the general definition of them has changed to be the forward daytime running lights. I see many vehicles using the lower lights (generally in the bumper) at the same time as the regular headlights. So what is the legal definition of those lights? If they are 'driving' lights, how are they allowed on in the city? Also, are 'fog' lights allowed to operate with headlights?

The last question relates to the overall lighting of a vehicle in the dusk-to-dawn time bracket. I notice this past couple of months a number of cars driving around with no lighting on the back of the car. These are newer cars that I assume have 'automatic' positions to their light switch. If I see one of these vehicles and have a chance to pull behind or beside them at a traffic light, I note that the dash nights are on. This may mean the driver is not aware he/she is driving without proper illumination and does not have the light switch in the correct mode. I say this because I was able to get the attention of a driver at a traffic light. His wife said WHAT? His reaction was to reach for the light switch.

So my question here would be, could you [the police], at a traffic light, signal the driver of this issue with a brief siren sounding and (I assume you have a loudspeaker) announce the problem?

Walter Peachey, Port Moody

Photo of a collection of automotive lightsWalter, I'm impressed with your powers of observation. In my perfect world, all drivers would be as tuned in as you are to what's going on both inside and outside of their vehicle, but the reality is that most drivers go into "autopilot" when they get behind the wheel.

You've asked some very specific questions so I'll try to give you very specific answers and hope that other "Cop Talk" readers find the topic as interesting as you and I do.

I want to start by pointing out that the rules that govern the usage of lights (a.k.a. lamps) are found in Division 4 of BC Motor Vehicle Act (MVA) regulations. You can find a complete copy of the External link, opens in a new windowMVA regulations online. A good read if you ever find yourself awake in the middle of the night.

There are 22 different kinds of lamps referred to in the regulations. From what you described, Walter, I assume you are talking about what are commonly referred to as "fog lamps."

The MVA regulations state that:

  • you can only have two fog lamps;
  • they must be mounted to the vehicle not more than 30 cm below the headlamps;
  • they must be properly adjusted;
  • they can only emit white or amber light.

We've all seen people driving around with blue or green fog lights mounted on their vehicle. That's illegal. But as long as they meet the regulations, fog lamps may be used at any time of the day or night and, in fact, are used as the daytime running lamps on some vehicles.

Daytime running lamps are used to improve visibility when the vehicle is viewed from the front in daylight. On most vehicles, daytime running lamps are part of the headlamp system and most headlamp systems are multi-beam capable.

What is a multi-beam headlamp? It is a vehicle headlamp that allows the driver to select either an upper beam of light, which will make an object at a distance of 100 metres visible, or a lower beam of light, which has a shorter range and does not shine into the eyes of another driver. The use of high-beam headlamps is only illegal if it is likely that the light will impede the vision of other drivers.

As for your last question, Walter, the driver at the stop light that you mentioned was probably driving just with his daytime running lamps. My guess is that the dash panel light would illuminate when the engine is running. Drivers who are not fully familiar with the features of their vehicle may think they have turned on the lights as required by law.

As police officers, my colleagues and I would definitely do more than signal the driver to turn the lights on. We would conduct a traffic stop to make sure the vehicle, especially the lamps, are functioning properly. Drivers in B.C. are required to illuminate all the lamps as stipulated in Division 4 of the regulations when driving between a half hour after sunset and a half hour before sunrise. Every driver is also required to have their lights on when the weather conditions make it such that objects at a distance of 150 metres cannot be clearly seen.

Walter, I hope you (and other readers) find my answers useful. If you would like to have more details on automotive lighting requirement or information on Coquitlam RCMP’s road safety initiates, feel free to call us at 604-945-1550 or send your questions to "Cop Talk" at


"Cop Talk" is a monthly column produced as a partnership between the Coquitlam RCMP and External link, opens in a new windowThe Tri-Cities NOW based on questions submitted by readers. Cpl. Jamie Chung is the Media Relations Officer for the Coquitlam RCMP. Questions can be submitted to You can follow Coquitlam RCMP on Twitter (@cqrcmp) and visit the Coquitlam RCMP's website ( for more information about policing and public safety in your community.

The contents of this column are based on Cpl. Chung's professional opinion, training and experience and are not intended to reflect official RCMP policy or other legislation.

Released by

Cpl. Jamie Chung

Media Relations Officer
Coquitlam RCMP
2986 Guildford Way, Coquitlam, BC V3B 7Y5
Office: 604-945-1580
Fax: 604-552-7300


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