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Lighting on Fork Lift Trucks

General Requirements
Warning Beacons

The requirements concerning the lighting of all vehicles used on the public road are contained in The Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989 (RVLR), as amended* . If the vehicle is not used on the public road then the provisions of RVLR do not apply.

The information in this leaflet is provided by way of advice. Only the courts can provide an authoritative interpretation of regulations. It is the responsibility of the vehicle owner/driver to ensure that the vehicle at all times, when used on the public roads, complies with the appropriate legislation.

General Requirements

Fork lift trucks are not specifically mentioned in RVLR, but by virtue of their function and use they are usually considered to fall within the general definition of a ‘works truck’, which is:

“a motor vehicle (other than a straddle carrier) designed for use in private premises and used on a road only in delivering goods from or to such premises, to or from a vehicle on a road in the immediate neighbourhood or in passing from one part of any premises to another or to other private premises in the immediate neighbourhood, or in connection with road works while at or in the immediate neighbourhood of the site of such works.”

If a fork lift truck is only used on the public road between sunrise and sunset and is not fitted with any front or rear position lamp then under Regulation 4(3) of RVLR the vehicle is exempt from having to be fitted with any lamp or reflector.

Many fork lift trucks would not be able to take advantage of this exemption without their use on the road being curtailed, especially during the winter months.

Regulation 18 of RVLR requires vehicles to be fitted with lamps, reflectors, rear markings and devices, as specified in Schedule 1 of these regulations. Table 1 of this schedule lists the types of lamp with which motor vehicles with three or more wheels are required to be fitted, and specifies the exceptions to the requirement for each lamp type. These exceptions typically refer to the vehicle type, maximum speed and ‘first used’ date, but sometimes refers to the weight or dimensions of the vehicle.

Assuming a fork lift truck was first used on or after 1st April 1986 and is not a particularly long or heavy vehicle, then the determining factor for the types of lamp that the vehicle is required to be fitted with is the maximum speed of the vehicle. The maximum speed is:

“the speed which a vehicle is incapable, by reason of its construction, of exceeding on the level under its own power when fully laden.”

The table below lists the types of lamp that a fork lift truck is required to be fitted with, according to its maximum speed.

As regards the number and positioning of each lamp type, these requirements are specified in RVLR.

Warning beacons

A fork lift truck having a speed not exceeding 25 mph or any trailer drawn by such a vehicle is permitted to be fitted with an amber warning beacon. (RVLR, Reg. 11(2)(l)(iv))

However, if the vehicle is used on an unrestricted dual-carriageway, other than crossing it by the quickest manner practicable, then the fitment of an amber warning beacon is obligatory and it must be kept lit when the vehicle is used on such a road. (RVLR, Reg. 17 & 26)

Any amber warning beacon fitted, whether voluntarily fitted or required by regulation, must be fitted in compliance with the requirements of Schedule 16 of RVLR. Schedule 16 requires the centre of the lamp to be not less than 1200 mm above the ground, and the light to be visible from at least one beacon (but not necessarily the same beacon) from any point at a reasonable distance from the vehicle (i.e. through 360?).

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