Flashing Lamps

I was wondering the legality/procedure of installing white/amber or just amber strobe on my vehicle. The reason I want to do this is because im a first responder and tend to car accidents, during the winter time, I help out quite a few people doing vehicle recovery when they are stuck in the snow, or have slid into the ditch. On quite a few occations, other drives have not been very patient and we've had some show aggression, yellow, swerving around us and putting our life in danger. Its even gone as far as someone throwing things out the window at me before. So I would like to see if I am allowed to do this so help ensure the people and I our safety when im trying to lend a helping hand.

Flashing lamps

Just to make it a little easier to understand in British Columbia the colours of flashing lamps for differing purposes are defined under Sec. 4.28 of the MVA/R

Any request which clearly differs from those listed will require a written permit from the director meaning the director of CVSE .

Motor cycles with exception of police or bonifide emergency services are for the most part considered pleasure use vehicles. The definition of a tow car, tow truck or recovery vehicle in law places these vehicles in need of an NSC issued by CVSE.

The inclusion of any regulated colour such as white is strictly prohibited as RED / BLUE and WHITE are set aside in the regulations for emergency vehicles. Amber is for service vehicles or construction vehicles etc. by permit. Violet has been granted in a CVSE circular to funeral escort vehicles though both violet and green remain outside the MVA/R designations of Sec. 4.28.

If in doubt about attaching any flashing lamp that disn't come in the manufacturers specification of a new vehicle other than to replace a normal item found on the vehicle may be a violation and should be clarified in writing with CVSE.

Flashing Lamps/ Tow Vehicle

Hello - My situation is niche but my application is not; so I'd like to confirm my mounting of two amber flashing lights as proper.

My touring class motorcycle is used and marked for calls of broken down motorcycles throughout our region's single lane highways. It simply gets down the highway quickest to the scene, around the blocked traffic effortlessly and tows stricken bikes (that would otherwise need recovery by the single available flatdeck only, as the common tow bar or tow hook is ineffective).

If its a service problem that can be repaired on the side of the highway quickly; a tool trailer with a twinning jack and payload is towed to the scene once connected for battery support and its repaired.

If its a complete break down and recovery that is required; then the low bed trailer that trails behind, takes the stricken motorcycle aboard it and to either our shop or the shop of our choice for repair.

Can you confirm the legality of my mounted flashing amber lights to that duty motorcycle and trailer without a permit?

We used to use four way flashers, but after being almost clipped once roadside along with the mountie that I happened to be working a scene with; I have reseached her suggestion of more light protection. My research has found the following in the MVA and FALA, P& D, Information release, and perhaps you will concur, excludes me from needing a permit from the Director:

Flashing Amber Lamp Application, Permit and Device Information

Companies or individuals using vehicles that are identified in the British Columbia Motor Vehicle Act Regulations Division 4.28 (5)(6), 4.29, 4.30 or Commercial Transport Act Regulations Division 8.04 such as:

Highway maintenance equipment being used on a highway during highway maintenance or construction;

Snow removal equipment;

Sand spreading equipment;

Implements of Husbandry;

Pilot Car; and

Tow Car 1as defined in the Motor Vehicle Act.

 

Will NOT be considered for any permit because regulations already govern the flashing amber lamp allowance and / or usage.

So, I when consulting Tow Car Definition, I find:

Division 1 — Interpretation

"tow car" means a motor vehicle used exclusively for towing or rendering assistance to other motor vehicles, or to vehicles suffering from a defect or disability in their means of locomotion;

 'Towing or Rendering Assistance seemes plain to me, so when defining "Motor Vehicle" I find:

"motor vehicle" means a vehicle, not run on rails, that is designed to be self-propelled or propelled by electric power obtained from overhead trolley wires, but does not include mobile equipment or a motor assisted cycle;

Finally to confirm that motorcycle is not excluded from "motor vehicle' classification, I find:

"motorcycle" means a motor vehicle that runs on 2 or 3 wheels and has a saddle or seat for the driver to sit astride;

Looking to either apply for a permit or whether a permit is even required for the task, I then studied the application of Division 4 - for Flashing Lamps, finding:

Flashing lamps

4.28   (1) A vehicle on a highway may only be equipped with lamps that are capable of displaying flashes of light if

(a) the lamps are operated in accordance with this Division, or

(b) the director has given written permission and the lamps are lighted in accordance with the conditions specified by the director.

(2) Red, white or amber flashing lamps may be used on the following vehicles:

(a) a fire department vehicle driven by a member of the fire department in the discharge of the member's duties;

(b) an official vehicle driven by a peace officer, constable or member of the police branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the discharge of the officer's duties;

(c) an ambulance, as defined in the Emergency Health Services Act, if the ambulance is responding to an emergency call or transporting a patient and it is essential for the ambulance to gain the right of way;

(d) a bus described in section 169.1 (4) (a) or (b) of the Act if the flashes of light are emitted

(i) from the centre and right side clearance lights at the rear of the bus, and

(ii) only when the bus is stopped, standing or parked at a bus stop.

(3) Only those vehicles described in subsection (2) may be equipped with a system which alternately flashes the headlamps of the vehicle.

(4) A school bus may be equipped with alternately flashing red lamps and alternately flashing amber lamps of a type approved by the director.

(5) Two amber flashing lamps may be illuminated on the following vehicles:

(a) a tow car while attending a vehicle being connected to or disconnected from the tow car, if the lamps are mounted within the maximum allowable vehicle height of 4.15 m and as far forward as the rear of the cab;

(b) a tow car when towing a vehicle which projects beyond the width of the lane in which it is being towed;

(c) snow removal equipment, sand spreading equipment or other highway maintenance equipment being used on a highway during highway maintenance or construction;

(d) the roof of a pilot car as specified in Division 8 of the Commercial Transport Regulations and illuminated only while escorting an oversize vehicle or load.

(6) A vehicle that under the Commercial Transport Act is an oversize vehicle or is a vehicle used to transport oversized loads may be equipped with and operate flashing amber lamps in accordance with a permit issued under the Commercial Transport Act.

(7) Turn signals, or side-marker lamps used in conjunction with turn signals, may be used as warning lights by a slow moving vehicle as described in Division 7B or as warning lights whenever a vehicle is disabled on a highway.

(8) Any of the following officers may drive an official vehicle equipped with blue flashing lights and illuminate them in the discharge of the officer's duties:

(a) a member of a municipal police force;

(b) a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police;

(c) a member of the police branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces;

(d) a member of the Conservation Officer Service as described in section 106 of the Environmental Management Act;

(e) a person authorized to exercise the powers and duties of a constable or peace officer for purposes set out in section 1 of the Inspectors Authorization Regulation, B.C. Reg. 372/92;

(f) a park ranger appointed under section 4 (2) of the Park Act;

(g) a person employed in the Ministry of Forests and Range who is appointed as a special constable under section 9 of the Police Act;

(h) an employee of the Canada Border Services Agency who is described in paragraph (d) or (d.1) of the definition of "peace officer" in section 2 of the Criminal Code (Canada).

Can you confirm the legality of my mounted flashing amber lights to that duty motorcycle and trailer without needing a permit?

Thank you for your time.

Kyle

Two Questions

Is the motorcycle registered with ICBC as a tow car?

If not, why not?

Re: Two Questions

Thanks for the quick reply.

Thats interesting, I'll have a look.  Its registered for use for work, of that I am certain; Registered as a tow vehicle, I can't be certain at this moment, its in for warranty service this week. However, it wouldnt be any trouble to do so, as that is what both it and its payload is used for. It is same model as used in Europe and Japan most often, to remove broken down cars and bikes from highways/bridges via the Goldwing payload.

Is that registration process any different than registering a 1 Ton or 1.5 Ton as a tow car?

But if it is not at this time, registered as a tow car that is, can we still proceed?

Thank you.

Simplest Option

You would register with ICBC as a tow car if they permit it. Given that it is your business and that is the motorcycle's use, I cannot see why they should not, but it is government...

Once registered as a tow car, you are entitled to use flashing lights.

It would also be wise to look into it carefully to make sure that you are registered properly for the purposes of insurance coverage. You don't want any hassles if you suffer a loss.

The details

Thanks again - I got them to fax me a copy today.

On the insurance side:

It is registered as All Use - it is a personal vehicle (propriertorship)(single operator) but for registered for artisan work (incl mechanical/towing). Commercial/ Tow Truck is unavailable for motorcycles so I fall under rate class 413 with the heaviest engine. However, we carry the liability and tow yard insurance package as well, for recoveries brought back to the property. I have confidence that stop-loss due diligence is pretty secure in the event of trouble.

Also, I just telephoned management at ICBC to ask if Tow Car designation is possible for motorcyles i.e. built for towing or those imported for towing. Awaiting call back. Initial impression was that it was not a requirement; but I noted that I was discussing with Drive Smart BC so he said that he'd confirm.

On the MVA side:

It was noted for me again on the phone, for the purposes of amber light protection, the MVA does not distinguish between motor vehicle registration classes of motor vehicles and simply 'motor vehicles acting as Tow Car' (for this amber light purpose and pursuant to the tow car definition).

I do wish to be compliant, however I'm not certain as to whether your note describes the problem being my insurance coverage or a registered class of motor vehicle? Can you explain, please?

Thanks

Explanation

The insurance was a simple caveat.

The registration, if the tow car designation was available, would have simply described the motorcycle's use to curious enforcement personnel and shown that you are entitled to use flashing lamps. The simple way out.

I'm surprised that ICBC paid any attention when you mentioned having discussed this with me. In cases like this, they are the ones that set the pace and I only try to fit in what I can from past experience.

You may end up applying for the permit, but since the CVSE is the issuing agency, perhaps you should ask them directly:

Head Office/Director's Office 

PO Box 9250 STN PROV GOVT 

Victoria BC V8W 9J2 

Telephone: 250 952-0577

Fax: 250 952-0578

Email

Re: Explanation

Thats great, thanks. Actually ICBC was taking the lead nor really clear, as their MV class for motorcycle is always 'any use'.  So when one asks when it can be used as commercial, artisan or tow car. The response from them is sort of along the lines collectively of:

"its for any use, Sir.  I cannot be any clearer, any use is any use you can think of.  Once your coverage is settled for what you are doing, your bike can be personally used, commercially used, it can be a tow car, pace car, or anything else you can make your bike do. Any use."

Unique situation and a difficult interpretation of the MVA.

I appreciate the direction and help.

Who Can Use Them

The law on flashing lamps is as follows:

Flashing lamps

4.28 (1) A vehicle on a highway may only be equipped with lamps that are capable of displaying flashes of light if

(a) the lamps are operated in accordance with this Division, or

(b) the director has given written permission and the lamps are lighted in accordance with the conditions specified by the director.

(2) Red, white or amber flashing lamps may be used on the following vehicles:

(a) a fire department vehicle driven by a member of the fire department in the discharge of the member's duties;

(b) an official vehicle driven by a peace officer, constable or member of the police branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the discharge of the officer's duties;

(c) an ambulance, as defined in the Health Emergency Act, if the ambulance is responding to an emergency call or transporting a patient and it is essential for the ambulance to gain the right of way;

(d) a bus described in section 169.1 (4) (a) or (b) of the Act if the flashes of light are emitted

(i) from the centre and right side clearance lights at the rear of the bus, and

(ii) only when the bus is stopped, standing or parked at a bus stop.

(3) Only those vehicles described in subsection (2) may be equipped with a system which alternately flashes the headlamps of the vehicle.

(4) A school bus may be equipped with alternately flashing red lamps and alternately flashing amber lamps of a type approved by the director.

(5) Two amber flashing lamps may be illuminated on the following vehicles:

(a) a tow car while attending a vehicle being connected to or disconnected from the tow car, if the lamps are mounted within the maximum allowable vehicle height of 4.15 m and as far forward as the rear of the cab;

(b) a tow car when towing a vehicle which projects beyond the width of the lane in which it is being towed;

(c) snow removal equipment, sand spreading equipment or other highway maintenance equipment being used on a highway during highway maintenance or construction;

(d) the roof of a pilot car as specified in Division 8 of the Commercial Transport Regulations and illuminated only while escorting an oversize vehicle or load.

(6) A vehicle that under the Commercial Transport Act is an oversize vehicle or is a vehicle used to transport oversized loads may be equipped with and operate flashing amber lamps in accordance with a permit issued under the Commercial Transport Act.

(7) Turn signals, or side-marker lamps used in conjunction with turn signals, may be used as warning lights by a slow moving vehicle as described in Division 7B or as warning lights whenever a vehicle is disabled on a highway.

(8) Any of the following officers may drive an official vehicle equipped with blue flashing lights and illuminate them in the discharge of the officer's duties:

(a) a member of a municipal police force;

(b) a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police;

(c) a member of the police branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces;

(d) a member of the Conservation Officer Service as described in section 106 of the Environmental Management Act;

(e) a person authorized to exercise the powers and duties of a constable or peace officer for purposes set out in section 1 of the Inspectors Authorization Regulation, B.C. Reg. 372/92;

(f) a park ranger appointed under section 4 (2) of the Park Act;

(g) a person employed in the Ministry of Forests and Range who is appointed as a special constable under section 9 of the Police Act.

So, unless there is something that I don't know about your vehicle, the only way that you can legally use flashing lamps is by permit from the director as set out in 4.28(1)(b).

Interesting that you should ask this question as the Ministry has just published new information about Flashing Amber Lamp Permit and Device Information.

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