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Do Semi Trucks Need Reverse Lights? (Explained & Solved!)

Driving during nighttime poses a risk to one’s life. Not to mention that a semi truck, also referred to as a phantom vehicle, is quite dangerous to collide. 

Fortunately, reverse lights are available in semi trucks to assist vehicles and drivers to get easily noticed. 

Want to know if your semi truck needs reverse lights? Let’s find out in this article.

Here’s a quick answer to whether Semi Trucks need Reverse Lights:

Semi trucks need reverse lights for safety and compliance with the law. Federal Safety Regulations have made reverse lights in vehicles mandatory. Any vehicle exceeding 750kg in weight must have functioning reverse lights installed. These lights notify pedestrians that the vehicle is reversing.

What are Reverse Lights and What are they used for?

Reverse lights are mostly known as backlights. In general, they are mounted in your semi truck to ensure road safety.

Reverse lights are one to two white lights attached to the back of your car. They have two functions: to give you light and warn people nearby that you’re going to reverse.

These lights feature a simple circuit operated by a switch. Hence, you can quickly check whether they’re still working fine or not.

In most semi trucks, reverse lights are installed in the gearbox. They automatically lit as you move the vehicle backward.

But if the reverse lights are not mounted on the truck upon purchase, you have to add them on the dash. Added reverse lights primarily work manually through a switch.

When did Reverse Lights become Mandatory?

The Federal Safety Regulations has made reverse lights mandatory in the late 1960s. In 1968, the FMWS 108 incorporated the use of reverse lamps.

The establishment of these statutes is to effect the UN agreement in 1958, which harmonizes vehicle regulations on installing lights. 

Under federal laws, reverse lights are required equipment that must be observed by car manufacturers. 

The statutes also require reverse lights to be white in color, and only used when the vehicle is reversing or about to reverse.

Do Semi Trucks Need Reverse Lights?

Semi trucks need reverse lights for compliance and road safety. 

According to the law, any vehicle exceeding 750kg in weight should install functioning reverse lights.

Approximately, the weight of a semi truck range between 11,000 to 37,000 kg. As such, trailer are covered by the law that mandates the installation of reverse lights.

Further, many truckers thought that the use of reverse is only for backing purposes in the dark. In general, drivers should use reverse lights every time they will about to reverse. 

Reverse lights are both critical to the driver and pedestrians who are proximate to your vehicle.

That’s why these lamps are enclosed in a red case. After all, red color signifies danger.

That said, it’s inappropriate to reason out that a truck doesn’t need reverse lights just because trucking operations are performed in daylight.

Reverse lights are to be used any time of the day when turning the vehicle in reverse.

Do Semi Trucks generally come with Reverse Lights Fitted?

Reverse lights have only become standard equipment in the 1960s. This is because the federal regulation has made these lights mandatory at that same time. Around that time until today, reverse lights are fitted in the truck upon purchase. 

One of the first vehicle manufacturers to integrate reverse lights into their cars was the Chevy Impala in 1958.

However, it was only in 1964 that car buyers could order cars with fitted reverse lights. Ford is the first company to offer such an option with their Ford Mustang.

There are still car companies that offer reverse lights separately, though. But most of them are usually mounted as standard equipment.

Make sure to ask the seller if reverse lights are already mounted before purchasing a semi truck.

What do the Regulations say about Semi Truck Reverse Lights?

The federal regulations strictly mandate the installation of reverse lights on a vehicle as part of the harmonization of lights in vehicles.

Everyone should adhere to the rules for safety purposes; Otherwise, one has to face specific penalties.

According to a study, lighting regulations, in general, have proceeded instantly in the US. 

But the adoption of reverse lights was the first to be realized in the 1960s. Unlike brake lights which were only synchronized in the 1970s.

The regulations seem to be effective. Over the past decades, more than 1/5 of fatal accidents have decreased.

Will you get into Trouble with the Law for not having Reverse Lights on your Semi?

Laws exist for a reason. To be observed, certain sanctions and penalties need to be imposed.

A semi truck without reverse lights is a sign of negligence. When light regulations are violated, the driver, the truck operator or employer, and the vehicle manufacturer will be in trouble. 

Penalties include but are not limited to fines, damages, or worse, imprisonment (of course, only if the driver has injured someone).

Can you Install Reverse Lights on your Semi Truck?

It is advised that you hire a professional mechanic to mount reverse lights on your semi truck. 

The process of installing reverse lights takes time and requires a lot of tools. While the entire process doesn’t require that much skill set, it’s pretty dangerous.

 You may be electrocuted if you don’t know anything about electrical wiring.

If you want to install reverse lights on your own, this video below of where reverse lights are installed on a pick up truck might be of help.

How Many Reverse Lights should your Semi Truck have?

A semi truck should have one to two reverse lights. Ideally, any car should have two reverse lights.

But if you wish to have only one reverse light, make sure it followed twice the candlepower standard.

The law also allows unsymmetrical reverse lights. This means that each lamp is tested individually to determine if it has met the candlepower requirement.

What Color do Semi Truck Reverse Lights Need to be?

Every vehicle in the US needs to have reverse lights in white color. This is the standard color required by law. 

The implementation of diverse colors is meant to distinguish the function of each light from the other. For instance, clearance lights are amber and red colors, and emergency warning lamps are usually red. 

The change of color to any of these lights is prohibited.

However, the laws in countries like New Zealand and Australia allow amber lights for reverse light. 

This allows the use of many light functions in one device, thereby minimizing additional costs for manufacturers and consumers.

In the US, only Washington has adopted both amber and white color as reverse lights.

Do Semi-trailers need Reverse Lights?

Trailers are large vehicles that there’s no way that they would be exempted from the rule.

Whether it’s a travel trailer, hauling, or cargo, you must equip your truck with reverse lights.

Having the proper lighting at night will make the difference between an accident and safety.

Reverse lights are a built-in component in some trailers. However, some lights have to be installed separately like in the travel trailer.

But whatever trailer you’re driving, it is ideal that you equip your truck with these lights.

Reversing in the dark is hard enough. Notifying others that you’re about to back up will help you prevent the risk of an accident.

Does a 7 Pin Trailer Plug have Reverse Light?

A 7 pin trailer plug doesn’t have reverse light. While a 7 pin plug supplies all the lights in a trailer, reverse lights are excluded.

Since reverse lights are not available, one has to use the 13 pin plug.

Over the coming years, expect to have built-in 13 pin plug-in trailers.

However, many manufacturers have already done so.

How does a Semi Truck Warn others when they Reverse/Backup?

When you’re not reversing, a reverse or backup light provides a simple light. However, when you’re about to turn or to reverse, these lights will give off twice the light of candle power.

Reverse lights are mounted on the dash. It has a switch for activation. But reverse lights in most vehicles don’t need the switch to activate the lights. They automatically lit as soon as the drive turned in reverse.

Besides the light, the backup alarm also notifies others that a driver is about to reverse.

The backup alarm beeps warn pedestrians that a truck is about to reverse.

Overall, backup lights are essential safety features. It promotes safety and deters serious road accidents. 

It’s better to be bright and safe than sorry. 

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