Code Section Group

Vehicle Code - VEH

DIVISION 12. EQUIPMENT OF VEHICLES [24000 - 28160]

  ( Division 12 enacted by Stats. 1959, Ch. 3. )

CHAPTER 2. Lighting Equipment [24250 - 26106]

  ( Chapter 2 enacted by Stats. 1959, Ch. 3. )

ARTICLE 3. Rear Lighting Equipment [24600 - 24617]
  ( Article 3 enacted by Stats. 1959, Ch. 3. )

24600.
  

During darkness every motor vehicle which is not in combination with any other vehicle and every vehicle at the end of a combination of vehicles shall be equipped with lighted taillamps mounted on the rear as follows:

(a) Every vehicle shall be equipped with one or more taillamps.

(b) Every vehicle, other than a motorcycle, manufactured and first registered on or after January 1, 1958, shall be equipped with not less than two taillamps, except that trailers and semitrailers manufactured after July 23, 1973, which are less than 30 inches wide, may be equipped with one taillamp which shall be mounted at or near the vertical centerline of the vehicles. If a vehicle is equipped with two taillamps, they shall be mounted as specified in subdivision (d).

(c) Every vehicle or vehicle at the end of a combination of vehicles, subject to subdivision (a) of Section 22406 shall be equipped with not less than two taillamps.

(d) When two taillamps are required, at least one shall be mounted at the left and one at the right side respectively at the same level.

(e) Taillamps shall be red in color and shall be plainly visible from all distances within 500 feet to the rear except that taillamps on vehicles manufactured after January 1, 1969, shall be plainly visible from all distances within 1,000 feet to the rear.

(f) Taillamps on vehicles manufactured on or after January 1, 1969, shall be mounted not lower than 15 inches nor higher than 72 inches, except that a tow truck, in addition to being equipped with the required taillamps, may also be equipped with two taillamps which may be mounted not lower than 15 inches nor higher than the maximum allowable vehicle height and as far forward as the rearmost portion of the driver’s seat in the rearmost position. The additional taillamps on a tow truck shall be lighted whenever the headlamps are lighted.

(Amended by Stats. 1988, Ch. 924, Sec. 11.)

24601.
  

Either the taillamp or a separate lamp shall be so constructed and placed as to illuminate with a white light the rear license plate during darkness and render it clearly legible from a distance of 50 feet to the rear. When the rear license plate is illuminated by a lamp other than a required taillamp, the two lamps shall be turned on or off only by the same control switch at all times.

(Amended by Stats. 1965, Ch. 1313.)

24602.
  

(a) A vehicle may be equipped with not more than two red fog taillamps mounted on the rear which may be lighted, in addition to the required taillamps, only when atmospheric conditions, such as fog, rain, snow, smoke, or dust, reduce the daytime or nighttime visibility of other vehicles to less than 500 feet.

(b) The lamps authorized under subdivision (a) shall be installed as follows:

(1) When two lamps are installed, one shall be mounted at the left side and one at the right side at the same level and as close as practical to the sides. When one lamp is installed, it shall be mounted as close as practical to the left side or on the center of the vehicle.

(2) The lamps shall be mounted not lower than 12 inches nor higher than 60 inches.

(3) The edge of the lens of the lamp shall be no closer than four inches from the edge of the lens of any stoplamp.

(4) The lamps shall be wired so they can be turned on only when the headlamps are on and shall have a switch that allows them to be turned off when the headlamps are on.

(5) A nonflashing amber pilot light that is lighted when the lamps are turned on shall be mounted in a location readily visible to the driver.

(Amended by Stats. 2005, Ch. 270, Sec. 11. Effective January 1, 2006.)

24603.
  

Every motor vehicle that is not in combination with any other vehicle and every vehicle at the end of a combination of vehicles shall at all times be equipped with stoplamps mounted on the rear as follows:

(a) Each vehicle shall be equipped with one or more stoplamps.

(b) Each vehicle, other than a motorcycle, manufactured and first registered on or after January 1, 1958, shall be equipped with two stoplamps, except that trailers and semitrailers manufactured after July 23, 1973, which are less than 30 inches wide, may be equipped with one stoplamp which shall be mounted at or near the vertical centerline of the trailer. If such vehicle is equipped with two stoplamps, they shall be mounted as specified in subdivision (d).

(c)  Except as provided in subdivision (h), stoplamps on vehicles manufactured on or after January 1, 1969, shall be mounted not lower than 15 inches nor higher than 72 inches, except that a tow truck or a repossessor’s tow vehicle, in addition to being equipped with the required stoplamps, may also be equipped with two stoplamps which may be mounted not lower than 15 inches nor higher than the maximum allowable vehicle height and as far forward as the rearmost portion of the driver’s seat in the rearmost position.

(d) When two stoplamps are required, at least one shall be mounted at the left and one at the right side, respectively, at the same level.

(e) (1) Stoplamps on vehicles manufactured on or after January 1, 1979, shall emit a red light. Stoplamps on vehicles manufactured before January 1, 1979, shall emit a red or yellow light.

(2) Paragraph (1) does not apply to commercial motor vehicles, as defined in Section 15210 or 34500. Stoplamps on a commercial motor vehicle shall emit red light. A commercial motor vehicle shall not be equipped with an amber stoplamp, amber taillamp, or other amber lamp that is optically combined with a stoplamp or taillamp.

(f) All stoplamps shall be plainly visible and understandable from a distance of 300 feet from the rear of the vehicle both during normal sunlight and at nighttime, except that stoplamps on a vehicle of a size required to be equipped with clearance lamps shall be visible from a distance of 500 feet from the rear of the vehicle during those times.

(g) Stoplamps shall be activated upon application of the service (foot) brake and the hand control head for air, vacuum, or electric brakes. In addition, all stoplamps may be activated by a mechanical device designed to function only upon sudden release of the accelerator while the vehicle is in motion. Stoplamps on vehicles equipped with a manual transmission may be manually activated by a mechanical device when the vehicle is downshifted if the device is automatically rendered inoperative while the vehicle is accelerating.

(h) (1) Any vehicle may be equipped with supplemental stoplamps mounted to the rear of the rearmost portion of the driver’s seat in its rearmost position in addition to the lamps required to be mounted on the rear of the vehicle. Supplemental stoplamps installed after January 1, 1979, shall be red in color and mounted not lower than 15 inches above the roadway. The supplemental stoplamp on that side of a vehicle toward which a turn will be made may flash as part of the supplemental turn signal lamp.

(2) A supplemental stoplamp may be mounted inside the rear window of a vehicle, if it is mounted at the centerline of the vehicle and is constructed and mounted so as to prevent any light, other than a monitorial indicator emitted from the device, either direct or reflected, from being visible to the driver.

(i) Any supplemental stoplamp installed after January 1, 1987, shall comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 108 (49 C.F.R. 571.108). Any vehicle equipped with a stoplamp that complies with the federal motor vehicle safety standards applicable to that make and model vehicle shall conform to that applicable safety standard unless modified to comply with the federal motor vehicle safety standard designated in this subdivision.

(Amended by Stats. 2016, Ch. 208, Sec. 17. (AB 2906) Effective January 1, 2017.)

24604.
  

(a) Whenever the load upon any vehicle extends, or whenever any integral part of any vehicle projects, to the rear four feet or more beyond the rear of the vehicle, as measured from the taillamps, there shall be displayed at the extreme end of the load or projecting part of the vehicle during darkness, in addition to the required taillamp, two red lights with a bulb rated not in excess of six candlepower plainly visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the sides and rear. At any other time there shall be displayed at the extreme end of the load or projecting part of the vehicle a solid red or fluorescent orange flag or cloth not less than 18 inches square.

(b) There shall be a single flag or cloth at the extreme rear if the projecting load is two feet wide or less. Two warning flags or cloths are required if the projecting load is wider than two feet. Flags or cloths shall be located to indicate maximum width of loads that extend beyond the sides or rear of the vehicle.

(Amended by Stats. 2015, Ch. 451, Sec. 49. (SB 491) Effective January 1, 2016.)

24605.
  

(a) A tow truck or an automobile dismantler’s tow vehicle used to tow a vehicle shall be equipped with and carry a taillamp, a stoplamp, and turn signal lamps for use on the rear of a towed vehicle.

(b) Whenever a tow truck or an automobile dismantler’s tow vehicle is towing a vehicle and a stoplamp and turn signal lamps cannot be lighted and displayed on the rear of the towed vehicle, the operator of the tow truck or the automobile dismantler’s tow vehicle shall display to the rear a stoplamp and turn signal lamps mounted on the towed vehicle, except as provided in subdivision (c). During darkness, if a taillamp on the towed vehicle cannot be lighted, the operator of the tow truck or the automobile dismantler’s tow vehicle shall display to the rear a taillamp mounted on the towed vehicle. No other lighting equipment need be displayed on the towed vehicle.

(c) Whenever any motor vehicle is towing another motor vehicle, stoplamps and turn signal lamps are not required on the towed motor vehicle, but only if a stoplamp and a turn signal lamp on each side of the rear of the towing vehicle is plainly visible to the rear of the towed vehicle. This subdivision does not apply to driveaway-towaway operations.

(Amended by Stats. 2009, Ch. 322, Sec. 12. (AB 515) Effective January 1, 2010.)

24606.
  

(a) Every motor vehicle, other than a motorcycle, of a type subject to registration and manufactured on and after January 1, 1969, shall be equipped with one or more backup lamps either separately or in combination with another lamp. Any vehicle may be equipped with backup lamps.

(b) Backup lamps shall be so directed as to project a white light illuminating the highway to the rear of the vehicle for a distance not to exceed 75 feet. A backup lamp may project incidental red, amber, or white light through reflectors or lenses that are adjacent or close to, or a part of, the lamp assembly.

(c) Backup lamps shall not be lighted except when the vehicle is about to be or is backing or except in conjunction with a lighting system which activates the lights for a temporary period after the ignition system is turned off.

(d) Any motor vehicle may be equipped with a lamp emitting white light on each side near or on the rear of the vehicle which is designed to provide supplemental illumination in an area to the side and rear not lighted by the backup lamps. These lamps shall be lighted only with the backup lamps.

(Amended by Stats. 1981, Ch. 813, Sec. 17.)

24607.
  

Every vehicle subject to registration under this code shall at all times be equipped with red reflectors mounted on the rear as follows:

(a) Every vehicle shall be equipped with at least one reflector so maintained as to be plainly visible at night from all distances within 350 to 100 feet from the vehicle when directly in front of the lawful upper headlamp beams.

(b) Every vehicle, other than a motorcycle or a low-speed vehicle, manufactured and first registered on or after January 1, 1965, shall be equipped with at least two reflectors meeting the visibility requirements of subdivision (a), except that trailers and semitrailers manufactured after July 23, 1973, that are less than 30 inches wide, may be equipped with one reflector which shall be mounted at or near the vertical centerline of the trailer. If the vehicle is equipped with two reflectors, they shall be mounted as specified in subdivision (d).

(c) Every motortruck having an unladen weight of more than 5,000 pounds, every trailer coach, every camp trailer, every vehicle, or vehicle at the end of a combination of vehicles, subject to subdivision (a) of Section 22406, and every vehicle 80 or more inches in width manufactured on or after January 1, 1969, shall be equipped with at least two reflectors maintained so as to be plainly visible at night from all distances within 600 feet to 100 feet from the vehicle when directly in front of lawful upper headlamp beams.

(d) When more than one reflector is required, at least one shall be mounted at the left side and one at the right side, respectively, at the same level. Required reflectors shall be mounted not lower than 15 inches nor higher than 60 inches, except that a tow truck, in addition to being equipped with the required reflectors, may also be equipped with two reflectors which may be mounted not lower than 15 inches nor higher than the maximum allowable vehicle height and as far forward as the rearmost portion of the driver’s seat in the rearmost position. Additional reflectors of a type meeting requirements established by the department may be mounted at any height.

(e) Reflectors on truck tractors may be mounted on the rear of the cab. Any reflector installed on a vehicle as part of its original equipment prior to January 1, 1941, need not meet the requirements of the department provided it meets the visibility requirements of subdivision (a).

(f) Area reflectorizing material may be used in lieu of the reflectors required or permitted in subdivisions (a), (b), (c), (d), and (e), provided each installation is of sufficient size to meet the photometric requirement for those reflectors.

(Amended by Stats. 1999, Ch. 140, Sec. 7. Effective January 1, 2000.)

24608.
  

(a) Motortrucks, trailers, semitrailers, and buses 80 or more inches in width manufactured on or after January 1, 1968, shall be equipped with an amber reflector on each side at the front and a red reflector on each side at the rear. Any vehicle may be so equipped.

(b) Motortrucks, trailers, semitrailers, housecars, and buses 80 or more inches in width and 30 or more feet in length manufactured on or after January 1, 1968, shall be equipped with an amber reflector mounted on each side at the approximate midpoint of the vehicle. Any such vehicle manufactured prior to January 1, 1968, may be so equipped.

(c) Required reflectors on the sides of vehicles shall be mounted not lower than 15 inches nor higher than 60 inches. Additional reflectors of a type meeting requirements established by the department may be mounted at any height.

(d) Reflectors required or permitted in subdivisions (a) and (b) shall be so maintained as to be plainly visible at night from all distances within 600 feet to 100 feet from the vehicle when directly in front of lawful upper headlamp beams.

(e) Area reflectorizing material may be used in lieu of the reflectors required or permitted in subdivisions (a) and (b), provided each installation is of sufficient size to meet the photometric requirement for such reflectors.

(Amended by Stats. 1979, Ch. 723.)

24609.
  

(a) A vehicle may be equipped with white or amber reflectors that are mounted on the front of the vehicle at a height of 15 inches or more, but not more than 60 inches from the ground.

(b) A schoolbus may be equipped with a set of two devices, with each device in the set consisting of an amber reflector integrated into the lens of an amber light that is otherwise permitted under this code, if the set is mounted with one device on the left side and one on the right side of the vehicle, and with each device at the same level.

(Amended by Stats. 2003, Ch. 594, Sec. 44. Effective January 1, 2004.)

24610.
  

A reflector placed on vehicles under Section 24609 which is of the button or other multiple-unit type shall contain not less than seven units with a total of not less than three square inches of reflecting surface. The red reflectors required may be separate units or a part of the red taillamps, but in either event the reflector and taillamps shall comply with all of the requirements of Sections 24600, 24602, and 24609, and any reflector constituting an integral part of a taillamp shall comply with all photometric requirements applicable to a separate reflector.

(Amended by Stats. 1965, Ch. 1313.)

24611.
  

Trailers that are equipped with red and white reflective sheeting or reflectors on both the sides and rear and displayed in accordance with federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard regulations (49 C.F.R. 571.108) for trailers with a width of 80 inches or more and having a gross vehicle weight rating of over 10,000 pounds need not be equipped with the reflectors required by Section 24607 or 24608.

(Added by Stats. 1995, Ch. 766, Sec. 37. Effective January 1, 1996.)

24612.
  

(a) All trailers and semitrailers having an overall width of 80 inches or more and a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds, and manufactured on or after December 1, 1993, except those designed exclusively for living or office use, and all truck tractors manufactured on or after July 1, 1997, shall be equipped with the conspicuity system specified in federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 108 (49 C.F.R. 571.108). The conspicuity system shall consist of either retroreflective sheeting or reflex reflectors, or a combination of retroreflective sheeting and reflex reflectors, as specified in the federal standard applicable on the date of manufacture of the vehicle.

(b) Any motor truck having an overall width of 80 inches or more and manufactured prior to December 1, 1993, and any truck tractor manufactured prior to July 1, 1997, may be equipped with the conspicuity system described in subdivision (a).

(c) All trailers and semitrailers having an overall width of 80 inches or more and a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds, and manufactured before December 1, 1993, shall comply with Section 393.13 of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

(Amended by Stats. 2016, Ch. 208, Sec. 18. (AB 2906) Effective January 1, 2017.)

24615.
  

It is unlawful to operate upon a public highway any vehicle or combination of vehicles, which is designed to be and is operated at a speed of 25 miles per hour or less, unless the rearmost vehicle displays a “slow-moving vehicle emblem,” except upon vehicles used by a utility, whether publicly or privately owned, for the construction, maintenance, or repair of its own facilities or upon vehicles used by highway authorities or bridge or highway districts in highway maintenance, inspection, survey, or construction work, while such vehicle is engaged in work at the jobsite upon a highway. Any other vehicle or combination of vehicles, when operated at a speed of 25 miles per hour or less, may display such emblem. The emblem shall be mounted on the rear of the vehicle, base down, and at a height of not less than three nor more than five feet from ground to base. Such emblem shall consist of a truncated equilateral triangle having a minimum height of 14 inches with a red reflective border not less than 13/4 inches in width and a fluorescent orange center.

This emblem shall not be displayed except as permitted or required by this section.

(Amended by Stats. 1971, Ch. 287.)

24616.
  

(a) A motor vehicle may be equipped with one or two rear-facing auxiliary lamps. For the purposes of this section, a rear-facing auxiliary lamp is a lamp that is mounted on the vehicle facing rearward. That lamp shall meet the photometric and performance requirements of the Society of Automotive Engineers Standard J1424 for cargo lamps.

(b) A rear-facing auxiliary lamp may project only a white light, with the main cone of light projecting both rearward and downward. The main cone of light shall illuminate the road surface or ground immediately rearward of a line parallel to the rear of the vehicle for a distance not greater than 50 feet. The main cone of light may not project to the front or sides of the vehicle.

(c) A rear-facing auxiliary lamp may be activated only when the vehicle is stopped. A vehicle equipped with a rear-facing auxiliary lamp shall also be equipped with a system that allows activation of the lamp only when the vehicle is in the “park” setting, if the vehicle is equipped with an automatic transmission, or in the “neutral” setting with the parking brake engaged, if the vehicle is equipped with a manual transmission.

(d) A vehicle equipped with a rear-facing auxiliary lamp may have an activation switch accessible to the operator from the rear of the vehicle.

(Added by Stats. 2001, Ch. 739, Sec. 20. Effective January 1, 2002.)

24617.
  

(a) A transit bus may be authorized to be equipped with a yield right-of-way sign on the left rear of the bus. The yield right-of-way sign may flash simultaneously with the rear turn signal lamps, but is not required to do so. The sign shall be both of the following:

(1) Designed to warn a person operating a motor vehicle approaching the rear of the bus that the bus is entering traffic.

(2) Illuminated by a red flashing light when the bus is signaling in preparation for entering a traffic lane after having stopped to receive or discharge passengers.

(b) This section does not require a transit agency to install the yield right-of-way sign described in subdivision (a).

(c) This section does not relieve the driver of a transit bus from the duty to drive the bus with due regard for the safety of all persons and property. This section does not exempt the driver of a transit bus from Section 21804.

(d) This section applies only to the Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District and the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, if the governing board of the applicable entity approves a resolution, after a public hearing on the issue, requesting that this section be made applicable to it.

(e) A participating transit agency shall undertake a public education program to encourage motorists to yield to a transit bus when the sign specified in subdivision (a) is activated.

(Amended by Stats. 2008, Ch. 179, Sec. 222. Effective January 1, 2009.)

VEHVehicle Code - VEH3