LED light campaigners finally see the light

Placement of light bars in the centre on the front of vehicles are not allowed.

26 November 2018 | Justice

Eben Platt; Walvis Bay traffic chief; “Aftermarket lamps intended for off-road activities and not for use on vehicles travelling on public roads are problematic.”

Otis Finck - Walvis Bay traffic chief Eben Platt called on motorists to read between the lines with regard to a recent newspaper headline implying that LED lamps are legal.

“This headline is misleading. Such reporting is contradictory and confuses members of the public. LED lights are not legal at all.”

Magistrate Vicky Nicolaidis recently ruled in favour of traffic law enforcement departments, and on 12 November 2018 in the Walvis Bay magistrate’s court found Lee Westerdale and Michael Spencer guilty for fitting unauthorised lamps on their vehicles.

The accused were charged with operating a vehicle fitted with a lamp other than a lamp prescribed or authorised in terms of the Road Traffic and Transport Regulations 2001. Each received fines of N$800 or 30 days imprisonment.

Platt further pointed out that of essence was that the LED lamps fitted by the accused were in contravention with traffic regulations.

“This cannot be allowed and we are now finally in agreement that the placement of light bars fitted in the centre on the front of vehicles is illegal. There is now clarity on the issue.”

He emphasised that traffic law enforcement departments do not have a problem with vehicles equipped with daylight running lamps if such vehicles are so manufactured.

“Aftermarket lamps intended for off-road activities and not for use on vehicles travelling on public roads are problematic since it did not undergo the homologation process. These lights are unauthorised and vehicle owners can be prosecuted.”

Platt said regulation 203 stipulates that no lamp other than a lamp prescribed or authorised in terms of traffic regulations may at any time be fitted to any vehicle operated on a public road.

“This regulation is not only limited to the LED light bars but any other lamp that is fitted to a vehicle contrary to the law. Drivers must be prepared to remove such unauthorised mounted lamps at the roadside before they can be allowed to proceed with their journey. The use of the vehicle can also be suspended and referred to the vehicle testing station for examination.”

Magistrate Nicolaidis said in her judgement that the prevalence of these types of offenses had reached alarming proportions and that the scourge of offences involving traffic violations is particularly a threat to all road users. The court must therefore take a zero tolerance policy in this regard.

“The accused are convicted of having additional unauthorised lights fitted to their vehicle and the court cannot help but wonder how hazardous this may be and the implication thereof on other road users. As such, any sentence meted must display the courts displeasure at those who fit such lights on their vehicles to the detriment of others.”

Platt further explained that the case had to be heard initially in 2017. A former traffic officer and consultant approached the prosecutor and created the impression that the charges were defective.

“This same strategy was used to influence the prosecutors in similar cases in other magisterial districts, but we decided to challenge it. I’m confident that all law enforcement officers will immolate our approach and appeal this in the future.”

The case was then scrapped from the roll. Nampol and Walvis Bay municipal traffic law enforcement departments appealed with reason that the case was not heard in court and the officers who issued the fines were not called to testify.

The appeal was successful, the accused and traffic officers were summoned to court to testify as was supposed to have been the case in the first instance.

When the case was heard on 12 November, the accused pleaded guilty.

Platt referred to regulation 202 of the Road Traffic and Transport Regulation 2001, promulgated under GN No 53/2001 as amended, and emphasised that the placement of LED bars was problematic.

He pointed out that many vehicle owners fit LED lamps on top of roofs and in inappropriate ways also.

“This regulation spells out the stipulations for fitted headlamps and explicitly states it should not be installed 500 millimetres behind the front end of the vehicle and not emit a dangerous glare to oncoming traffic. LED lights do not have measures that prevent the dangerous glare which it emits to oncoming traffic. It is fitted with clear glass which is also not allowed.”

Platt added that point three of the regulation stipulates that when two or more of the same lamps are fitted to a vehicle, they should be placed symmetrically in relation to the longitudinal centre line of the vehicle.

“Many disregard this and mount lamps on the roofs and roll bars of vehicles. This is illegal and not allowed.”

He further said it was clear that many people misunderstand the definition and proper use of spot lamps.

“Regulation 195 clearly stipulates that spot lamps are emergency lamps intended for use on emergency vehicles. A person may not operate a motor vehicle on a public road if it is fitted with a spot lamp. An adjustable spot lamp may however be fitted and used for official purposes on any ambulance, and rescue, fire fighting, police or traffic control vehicle.”

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