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Legal Blog

Nighttime Truck Accidents & Lighting Regulations

Maintaining the lights on large trucks like semis is a very important safety consideration. Given the potential for serious injury after a nighttime truck crash, several federal and state truck lighting regulations provide guidance and direction regarding the placement, attachment, and other criteria for truck lights. Failure to follow these rules can be a sign of negligence on the part of the truck driver, their employer, or even the manufacturer.

If you or a loved one are injured in a Houston-area truck accident because it was not sufficiently visible, you may be entitled to compensation. At The Krist Law Firm, P.C., we explain your rights and hold negligent truckers accountable.

To schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced truck accident lawyers, call us today at (281) 283-8500.

Lighting Regulations for Trucks

In the United States, lighting manufacturers certify their products – including those designed for trucks – as compliant. In other words, these products are “designed to conform” to relevant elements of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 108 (FMVSS 108).

Federal & Texas Requirements

If no federal truck lighting regulations exist concerning a particular type of light, then any state regulations are automatically in effect. If the Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations or federal regulations do exist, then they take precedence over any state regulations.

For example, commercial trucks in Texas may have auxiliary lights installed. But, according to 49 U.S.C. 30122, if the auxiliary equipment makes the lights inoperative or impairs the effectiveness of any of the required safety equipment on the vehicle per FMVSS-108, the auxiliary equipment may not be installed or kept on the vehicle.

Lamp, Reflector, and Other Devices on Trucks

According to FMVSS 108, every lamp, reflex reflector, and treatment device must have a permanent attachment to a specific location on a truck. Any device on the front/rear and sides of the vehicle should be positioned respectively perpendicular and parallel to the truck’s centerline unless it is certified at an installation angle.

An auxiliary device may not be installed that prevents any other device from fulfilling its prescribed requirements unless it meets all the necessary requirements.

Other Truck Lighting Regulations

All of the required lighting on trucks must be installed and properly functioning at all times.

Brake lights must work when the brake pedal is pressed. Hazard and signal markers must blink when triggered. Chicken lights may be placed on a truck – however, they must be red facing back and amber facing forward. Underbody lights are generally illegal in most states and should not be lit while driving.

It is the responsibility of the driver to ensure all lights are functioning properly.

Tail Lights

Semi-trucks have different requirements for tail lights as opposed to standard four-wheeler trucks. These lights are positioned between the back axle and must have a clear or red lens with a red light. They are usually mounted with a stainless steel bumper. You can choose between LED or incandescent lights.

There must be a minimum of two lights on the back of the trailer to pass a vehicle inspection.

Marker lights for trailers must be positioned across the back of the trailer so they define the edges of the trailer to other drivers. Two of these lights are required in the center and four are required on each corner. These lights must consist of red bulbs but may contain a red or clear lens.


Truck headlights must maintain full functionality at all times. There are also requirements against headlights getting out of position or becoming too cloudy.

Tractor Marker Lights

Truck lighting regulations call for a minimum of five amber lights (in most states) on top of the front of a semi cab. These lights are necessary to show oncoming traffic the height of the vehicle.

Contact our Houston Truck Accident Lawyers

At The Krist Law Firm, P.C., we provide representation and guidance to people who have suffered injuries in truck accidents throughout Texas.

We know how to identify when a truck’s lighting caused an accident and how to secure the compensation you deserve.

Call us today at (281) 283-8500, or contact us online to obtain a free consultation about your case.