Legal i

Shedding light on the matter

Q. Is it still an offence to park at night on the ‘wrong’ side of the road or without lights being left on?

I seem to recall these requirements many years ago when I first learned to drive, but I wonder if this is a relic of a bygone age, now that street lighting is more extensive.

A. Our street lighting may become less extensive in the near future, as many councils are exploring timed lighting that will be turned off during the small hours of the night. Just as well then that the regulations you have in mind are still in force, although many people may be unaware of them.

It is an offence to allow or cause or permit a vehicle to ‘remain at rest’ on a road between sunset and sunrise unless every front position lamp, rear position lamp, rear registration plate lamp and side marker lamp is kept lit and unobscured.

In prescribed circumstances, parked vehicles are exempt from these requirements if the road in question is subject to a speed limit of 30mph or lower. The exemption applies only if the vehicle is parked so that its left or nearside is as close as may be, and parallel to, the edge of the carriageway.

If the road is a one-way street, the regulations allow the vehicle to be parked so that either side complies with these positional requirements. These exemptions apply only to passenger vehicles constructed or adapted to carry not more than eight passengers excluding the driver, goods vehicles having a gross vehicle weight not exceeding 2,500kg, invalid carriages, motorcycles and pedal cycles or tricycles.

Front and rear lights must be displayed if the vehicle has an overhanging or projecting load. Lights must also be displayed on vehicles to which a trailer is attached. There are also exemptions for parking in certain lay-bys and designated parking places, but it is arguable that the exemption is lost if continuing to park beyond the maximum period allowed.

If you wondered why cars no longer have ‘parking lights’ of old, whereby only the offside lights were lit, this is probably because the regulation that allowed this was revoked, so if you have an older vehicle with this facility you should remember that where lighting is required you need to display all four lights.

Designed by solicitors, tested by barristers and available around the clock, Road Traffic Representation is an online legal system that allows people accused of a motoring offence to get free advice on how the law will be applied in their case, and referral to a telephone helpline and representation by a barrister in court if required. Practising solicitor Martin Langan spent two years designing the system and creating the data repository which allows the software to analyse road traffic offences with the same authority as a solicitor.

Twitter: martinlangan
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