Deceleration Lights on Trucks: A Report to the Governor and General Assembly of Virginia in Response to Senate Joint Resolution no. 247, 1993 Legislative Session

Report No: 94-R18

Published in 1994

About the report:

Senate Joint Resolution No. 247, 1993 Session, requested that the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, the Center for Innovative Technology, the Motor Carrier Division of the State Corporation Commission, and the Department of State Police conduct a study of the types of deceleration lights that currently exist, the desirability of allowing deceleration lights on trucks in the Commonwealth, and the appropriate standards that should dictate their use. In answer to the question of what types of deceleration lights currently exist, it was discovered that a great variety of systems have been developed and tested. These include accelerator position signals (APS), the type of light that led to this effort; enhanced brake signals; true deceleration signals; signals that operate when alternative braking is used; pre-brake signals; advance brake lights; and fast-rise brake lamps. The second question, whether it would be desirable to allow the use of deceleration lights on trucks, is more tenuous than the first. To be desirable, signaling systems need to deliver a familiar, consistent message, and they need to do so without generating ambiguous or false signals. Systems must also comply with legal barriers intended to protect the effectiveness of required lighting and signaling systems. Systems should not be prone to problems in installation and adjustment that would alter the nature of the signals they deliver. And finally, systems should be uniform in the message they deliver, which emphasizes the need for recognized standards and suggests the need to avoid having a great variety of systems in use. In the end, APSs are not a desirable type of deceleration warning light to allow for use on trucks in the Commonwealth. In answering the third question, what are the appropriate standards that should govern the use of deceleration warning lights, two proposals have been developed. The first suggests that Virginia should work together with other states to reestablish and fund the Vehicle Equipment Safety Commission (VESC) as a standard-setting organization for items of motor vehicle safety equipment that fall outside of the federal motor vehicle safety standards. The second proposal suggests that Virginia add a provision to the Code of Virginia that would allow for experimental testing of motor vehicle safety equipment on the highways of the Commonwealth through a permit system administered by the State Police.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


Other Authors

Andrew P. Johnson, Charles B. Stoke

Last updated: December 23, 2023

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