Drivers pull trailers – or non-motorized vehicles – behind cars or trucks. All states, including Texas, require trailers to have a specific number of lights and reflectors visible from a distance. Their proper placement usually depends on the length of the trailer.
Lights, body markings and reflectors on trailers and other vehicles should always be in good working order. Drivers who fail to keep their vehicle lights maintained may find themselves pulled over by law enforcement and may even get a ticket.
Light Requirements for Large Vehicles
Texas Transportation Code Section 547.322 states that buses, trucks, trailers and semi-trailers with a width of at least 80 feet should have two clearance lamps on the front at each side, two rear clearance lamps at each side, four side marker lamps located on each side near the front or rear of the vehicle, and four reflectors on each side near the front or back of the vehicle.
Trailers and semitrailers that are at least 30 feet long must have two side marker lamps, with one mounted in the center on each side in respect to the vehicle's length and two reflectors, one centrally mounted on each side. The location depends on the length of the vehicle.
Pole trailers must have two side marker lamps, one on each side near or at the load front and one reflector near or at the load front. A combination marker lamp should glow amber to the front of the vehicle and red to the sides and rear of the vehicle, with the rearmost support for the load indicating the trailer's maximum width. Truck tractors should have two clearance lamps on each side at the cab front.
Vehicles with a width of 90 inches should have:
- No more than three non-glare front identification lamps.
- No more than three non-glare rear identification lamps.
Hazard Lights on Vehicles
Texas Transportation Code 547.331 requires hazard lights on all vehicles. Their purpose is to warn other drivers of an approaching hazard. When a driver sees a vehicle's hazard lights, they should take care in approaching, passing or overtaking that vehicle.
All Texas vehicles should have:
- Hazard lights mounted at the same level, spaced at their widest point on the vehicle's front and rear.
- Hazard lights that are visible for up to 500 feet in sunlight.
- A hazard light that emits white or amber light or a color between them if they mount the light on the front of the motor vehicle.
- A hazard lamp emitting colors between red and amber if they mount the light on the rear side of the vehicle
Additional Lighting Requirements for Other Vehicles
All vehicles on Texas roads must have working signals, tail lamps, reflectors and other nonwhite lights that meet Texas law requirements. Unless the law states otherwise, tail lights and mirrors on the rear end of a vehicle must be red. Vehicle owners must mount red reflectors between 15 to 60 inches high. They must be visible at all distances from 100 to 600 feet in front of low-beam headlights, and from 100 to 350 feet in front of high-beam lights if the vehicle's manufacture or assembly took place before January 1, 1972.
Vehicle lighting devices other than headlamps, spot or auxiliary lamps, turn signals or warning lamps for emergency vehicles or school buses that emit a high-intensity beam brighter than 300 candlepower, must not strike the roadway more than 75 feet from the vehicle. Texas requires vehicles to have alternately flashing lights if they are a school bus, an authorized emergency vehicle or a church bus with the words "church bus" on the front and rear. These words should be clear to other drivers or tow truck operators directed by law enforcement at the scene of an accident or while towing a disabled vehicle.
License Plate Lamps
In Texas, license plates should also have the proper illumination so they are easy to see at night. Drivers often do not think about keeping their license plates well lit, but even if there is a light, the driver may be ticketed if it isn't bright enough and law enforcement can't read the license plate.
Rear license plate lights must have enough illumination that law enforcement officers can see them at a distance of 50 feet from the vehicle's rear. For optimum clarity, the license plate identification light should also be white. If an officer cannot see the plate from that distance, they may stop the driver.
Texas Law on Parked Vehicle Lights
All parked vehicles, with the exception of mopeds or motorcycles, should have at least one lamp, or a combination of lamps, that emit an amber or white light at a distance of 1,000 feet from the front of the vehicle and 1,000 feet from its rear. The vehicle should have at least one lamp installed as closely as possible to the side nearest to passing traffic.
All parked or stopped vehicles, with the exception of mopeds or motorcycles, on a roadway should display a light seen from a distance of 1,000 feet at night or when there isn't enough light during the day, such as when atmospheric conditions are unfavorable. The only exception to this rule is for lawfully parked vehicles. Drivers should dim lighted headlamps on parked vehicles and may not light more than four headlamps at once, including auxiliary lamps or spot lamps that are brighter than 300 candlepower.
- Find Law: Texas Transportation Code Section 547.322
- Texas Public Law: Texas Transportation Code Sec. 547.302 Duty to Display Lights
- Texas Public Law: Texas Transportation Code Sec. 547.383 Lighting Requirements on Parked Vehicles
- Texas Public Law: Texas Transportation Code Sec. 547.331 Hazard Lamps Permitted
- Comedy Driving: Requirements for Lighting and Reflective Devices
Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.