Trailer daily checks: how to safely check your lights

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Updated 06/03/2023

Having working lights is essential for any vehicle; they can improve visibility and can alert other road users when you are turning or braking. It is against the law to drive with defective headlights and brake lights, which is why it is important for HGV drivers to check that their trailer lights are working optimally. Often, defective lights can indicate a problem with the bulb, electrics or the coupling of the trailer.

In this guide, we will explore the various lighting regulations for trailers, how to check the lights during a daily walkaround check, and what to do if you find that your trailer lights are defective. Also, we will discuss whether the DVSA can impose penalties on drivers for defective trailer lights, and how our comprehensive app at AssetGo can help.

What are the lighting regulations for trailers?

There are various regulations laid out in the Road Vehicle Lighting Regulations 1989. All vehicles, except for motorcycles or push bikes, must have every single lamp required to be fitted to the vehicle lit between sunset and sunrise. This includes front and rear headlights, rear registration lamps and side marker lamps. Although there is no specific regulation for the use of indicators, they should still be working, and it can be classed as “driving without due care and attention” should a lack of indication cause an accident. These rules also apply to HGVs and LGVs with trailers attached, as the rear of the trailer must follow regulations.

HGVs and LGVs often require side-facing reflectors and rear reflective marker plates. It is illegal to display red lights in the front of the vehicle, but other rear lights such as reversing lights and warning beacons may be other colours. Lights must also not cause “undue discomfort” to other drivers; any issues with lights can easily be discovered during the daily walkaround checks of your trailer. If you discover that the lights on your trailer fail the daily checks, or they do not comply with the Road Vehicle Lighting Regulations, you must not drive the vehicle and get them fixed as soon as possible.

Truck driving at night in the fod

How do I check my trailer lights during a daily vehicle check?

Lights form an important part of your daily walkaround checks, especially if your HGV has a trailer attached. Not only must you check that the front lights are working correctly in the cab, but you should also ensure that the rear lights and reflectors are working correctly at the back of the trailer too. By turning on your lights and hazards, you can check if all lights are working and fitted correctly. You should also check that the brake lights are working optimally; you may require another person’s assistance for this.

You should also check that no reflectors are broken, missing or fitted incorrectly. If the lights at the back of your trailer are not working, but the cab lights are, you may have an issue with your electrical connections and trailer coupling. These factors must also be checked during your daily trailer checks, so you need to make sure that all electrical connections are coupled securely, free from damage and in good condition. If all electrical connections are attached correctly and the trailer has been accurately coupled, there may be an underlying issue if the lights of the trailer still don’t work.

To efficiently and effectively report defects with your HGV trailer lights, try the AssetGo app to reduce downtime, store daily check records securely and arrange regular maintenance. You can enquire about a free demo here.

What should I do if my trailer lights are defective?

If you have completed your daily checks and you notice a fault with the electrical connections or lights, you should not drive your vehicle until the issue is resolved. If you notice a defect whilst out driving your vehicle, you may be able to drive it to receive repairs. However, you must still pull up when it is safe to do so and consult with the relevant person within your company to raise any in-service defects.

If the police notice any faults with your vehicle, such as your brake lights, they can pull you over and give you a vehicle defect rectification notice. You then have 14 days to get the issue fixed and present proof to the police. However, you can also be pulled over by the DVSA as well as the police.

Rear of commercial semi truck

Can the DVSA punish me for defective trailer lights?

The DVSA can carry out roadside vehicle checks at various checkpoints across the country. During these checks, the DVSA can perform a visual inspection to see whether your vehicle has any safety defects and issue prohibitions for major or minor defects if necessary. If defects are minor, you will often have ten days to get the issue fixed.

The DVSA can impose penalties on commercial vehicle drivers for defective lights on trailers, and can even issue fines and penalty points if the driver has failed to carry out their daily walkaround checks. You must be able to provide the DVSA officer with a copy of your checks for the day to avoid these sanctions. You can read more about what needs to be checked during a HGV walkaround check in our comprehensive advice hub here.

How AssetGo can help

Any defects or issues with your trailer lights can be reported immediately to the relevant people within your company via our safe and secure app. Daily checklists, driver details and vehicle details can all be reported and easily accessed within the app should you be pulled over at a DVSA checkpoint. The app provides a much safer alternative to paper checklists, which can easily become lost and damaged. Fleet managers and drivers are easily connected through the app, and can communicate defects and vehicle problems effortlessly.

To find out more, please get in touch with a member of our team via our website today.

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