Flashing auxiliary lights

7 replies [Last post]
Alwynsid's picture
Joined: 2012/09/14

Points: 0

Can anyone share some light on the legality of the use of auxiliary LED's with flashing/strobe mode while feathering through traffic.

I commute on the N7 and find that when I use the LED's on flashing mode there is an awareness of me than when on high mode.

Motorists show particular neglect of other road users when there is extremely high stationary/slow moving traffic, as they are running late, on any of the highways and the flashing LED's makes them more aware of me. But is there any laws around this?

zebra's picture
Joined: 2008/03/28

it is illegal to use flashing lights, EXCEPT on a 'closed course' when say acting as a bike marshal for an event, or some such; you can do a search of ARTO, or similar, to find exact exclusions....

Not the news you might want to hear, but it can (DOES?) antagonize traffic officials entrusted in ensuring only Bona Fide emergency vehicles use flashing lights, where in any case flashing lights are mandatory.

LED (non-flashing spots should give PLENTY of presence on the road, especially if they are well adjusted, not OVER bright, not dazzling oncoming vehicles, and surprisingly, also not dazzling vehicles you are riding up behind!)

We sell LED spots (non-flashing!) and often recommend people fitting them to tilt them down by a paltry 5-degrees to AVOID blinding other road users, etc.

In summary, a single set of spots set correctly should be all you need.

Hope that helps


Charles Oertel's picture
Joined: 2007/04/14

Yes, it is illegal to ride with flashing lights (even your hazard lights).

Personally, even though I am a biker who lane splits myself, I am disproportionately annoyed when I see a bike lane-splitting with their hazards on.  In my head the dialogue goes "Whoop-di-doo, so you are lane splitting.  Big deal.  It does not require your emergency lights to be flashing..."

If you ride as if the cars cannot see you, you are much safer than if you ride thinking they can.  Because even with flashing lights there will be those who don't see you.

I do feel for you though.  Some roads are much more unfriendly than others.  I know I am lucking on the M3 - the luxury car drivers tend to not want to scratch their vehicles and leave a big gap.  That said, I never rely on being visible.

Committee: Webmaster / Ride Captain

Joined: 2014/08/12

Not going to be anyones favorite here. But this is the law as set out in the Act.

I copy the regulation for you. See paragraph (b) of subregulation (1). Only head lamps conforming to that requirement are legal. The lamps must comply to a SANS specification 1046. Many after fitments do not conform to these requirements.

Reg 159.               Head lamps

(1)          No person shall operate on a public road—

(a)          a motor vehicle, other than a motor cycle, a motor tricycle with one wheel in front or trailer, unless it is equipped in front on each side of its longitudinal centre line with—

(i)            one head lamp capable of emitting a main beam and a dipped beam;

(ii)           one head lamp capable of emitting a main beam and one head lamp capable of emitting a dipped beam; or

(iii)          one head lamp contemplated in subparagraph (i) or head lamps contemplated in subparagraph (ii) and an additional head lamp capable of emitting a main beam;

(b)          a motor cycle without a side car, motor tricycle with one wheel in front, unless it is equipped in front with—

(i)            one head lamp capable of emitting a main beam and a dipped beam;

(ii)           one head lamp capable of emitting a main beam and one head lamp capable or emitting a dipped beam, both of which are fitted in the same vertical plane; or

(iii)          two headlamps, each capable of emitting a main beam and a dipped beam, both of which are fitted in the same horizontal plane; or

(c)           a motor cycle with a side car, unless—

(i)            the motor cycle is equipped in front with one head lamp contemplated in paragraph (b)(i) or head lamps contemplated in paragraph (b)(ii) or (iii); and

(ii)           the side car is equipped with one parking lamp which complies with the provisions of regulation 164 or with one head lamp contemplated in paragraph (b)(i), subject to the proviso to regulation 161(4)(a).

(2)          At least one head lamp contemplated in subregulation (1)(a) capable of emitting a dipped beam or a parking lamp complying with the provisions of regulation 164 shall be so fitted on each side of the longitudinal centre line of the motor vehicle concerned that the portion of the illuminating surface thereof furthest from the longitudinal centre line of the motor vehicle is not more than 400 millimetres from the outer edge of the front of the motor vehicle.

(3)          The main-beam and dipped-beam of a head lamp fitted to a motor vehicle first registered on or after 1 January 2002, shall comply with the requirements of standard specification SANS 1046 “Motor vehicle safety: lights and light signalling devices installed on motor vehicles and trailers”, and standard specification SANS 1376 “Lights for motor vehicles”, Part 2: “Head lights”: Provided that the height of the dipped beam and headlamp of a light motor vehicle shall not exceed 1400 millimetres measured from the ground to the centre of the lamp.


Its Better to Burn out than to Fade away

Alwynsid's picture
Joined: 2012/09/14

I'm sure these regulations were written when there were mopeds on the road riding at max 60km per hour and motor vehicle with 6volt systems.

I as motorcyclist of today have to deal with educated cell phone users with multi million R cars with built-in blue tooth (and surely no not how it works) and  unlicensed taxi drivers. 

I make it my business to be as alert and very visible to road users  even if it offends them because they are then aware of me on the road,

This very morning, before 07.00 and very dark there was a club run over Visserhok.

Yes there was plenty of runners running on the opposite side of the road and some three abreast in the road. nocool

But very few had red flashing lights to warn traffic from behind, I think they expected traffic to see them in their very small reflector strips on their gear

To add to the confusion, at the top of Visserhok, a vehicle was parked with hazards on, so that vehicles coming up behind the runners  were left with doubt if there was a problem on the left of the road with the runners on the right.

I feel that, all fairness to fitness and the right to use our roads, there should be more awareness to the use of our road with more awareness and consideration to other road users even if it means a little to much lights like a Christmas tree or search light.


TheoFS's picture
Joined: 2015/05/27

My 5c.

I commute every day on my motorcycle from Tableview to Cape Town city bowl.  A few of my observations:

1. I find it extremely distracting when a fellow motorcyclist has his/her hazards on in front of me, especially in the dark. 

2. I usually don't see hazards coming up from behind.  They disappear in the mix of headlights.  The orange headlight and spotlight combination works well for visibility.  LED headlights + spotlight combos of the newer models are even more effective in my opinion.

3. I usually don't indicate for minor lane changes when I'm filtering, but do indicate when I do a major lane change maneuver.  You cannot indicate properly when you have hazards on.


Charles Oertel's picture
Joined: 2007/04/14

I agree with Theo.  That is why it is illegal to drive with your hazards on - you cannot indicate.  Whenever I encounter people driving with hazards on I find myself thinking "OK, there is some kind of crisis here and you are going to do something out of the ordinary, but thanks for letting me guess what that might be..."


Committee: Webmaster / Ride Captain

Lance's picture
Joined: 2014/01/22

Bikes lane splitting with their hazards used to annoy me for some odd reason in the past until I realised that these guys are just overly appreciative and simply thanking all the motorists for leaving enough space as they go past. No need for the hazards to be seen from the front. I prefer to use a thumbs up or the side ways head nod to acknowledge those motorist that make extra space.

If you find yourself stuck behind a slower/flashing motorcyclist I find a friendly toot toot on the hooter works pretty well to let them know I'd like to pass. For those one or two bikers that don't understand the toot toot yet, a friendly tap on the back of the helmet when it's safe to pass gets the message across and the next time you toot toot they are much more obliging to let you past.

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