Q&A - Adding Reflective Tape to My Vehicle

Q&A ImageI am looking for clarification on Section 4.21 Reflective Devices of the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations, to make sure that my plans to put additional reflective tape on my personal-use vehicle will comply with regulations.

To increase my safety when I drive or park at night - especially in places where there are few or no street lamps - I want to put additional reflective tape on my vehicle, to increase the visibility of my vehicle to other drivers.   My vehicle is a personal-use wagon approximately 4.58 metres in length, 1.79 in metres width, and 1.48 in height.  The reflective tape I have, and prefer to use, alternates between both white and red colours every 6 inches.  I want to put the reflective tape on and along the front, sides and back of my vehicle.  

My understanding of the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations is that there is no prohibition on putting additional reflective tape on my vehicle.  But, I do have questions about the rules limiting the colour of the reflective tape.

Section 4.21 Reflective Devices of the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations states that

(3)  Only amber reflectors may be mounted on the front or side of a vehicle.

(4)  Only red reflectors may be mounted on the rear of a vehicle or on the side of the vehicle at or toward the rear of the vehicle.

(9)  Despite subsections (1) to (7), reflective markings may replace red or amber reflectors on the side or rear of a vehicle.

My understanding is that subsections (3) and (4) apply to vehicles of all sizes - from small vehicles to trailers and trucks.  However, I often see trailers and trucks on the road that have with reflective tape in alternating white and red colours - seemingly in contradiction to subsections (3) and (4).  So I am wondering if subsection (9) exempts reflective tape, defined as "reflective markings", from the colour restrictions stated in subsections (3) and (4)?  

What exactly does subsection (9) actually mean?  Does subsection (9) mean that if I use reflective tape, considered to be "reflective markings", I can use white-and-red alternating colours ( or any other colour ) instead of only solid red or amber?  Does subsection (9) mean that the colour limitations stated in subsections (3) and (4) only apply to "reflectors", defined as rigid reflective components installed on the vehicle, and do not apply to reflective tape?

Thank you for doing research first!

Let's start with a definition:

"reflective marking" means a reflective tape or rigid plastic reflector that complies with all the requirements for reflective devices as stated in Technical Standards Document No. 108 of the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulation (Canada);

Markings that meet the standard will be labeled DOT-C2, C3 or C4. The tape you speak of is likely going to be C2.

You may use the red and white version on the sides and rear of your vehicle, but not the front. That has to be amber (yellow) instead of red. Strictly speaking, no other colours are permitted.

What subsection (9) means is that if you have properly applied reflective markings, those markings can be used instead of the reflectors required by subsections (3) and (4).

In reply to by DriveSmartBC

I would like to make sure that I understand the regulations completely, so that I can put on my reflective tape correctly.  I would not want to gain a record of motor vehicle violations, or be pulled over or fined by law enforcement for incorrect reflective tapes.  Also, if I had to change the reflective tape colours in the future due to incorrect taping - it will be expensive and time consuming ( the reflective tape has a permanent adhesive that will make re-taping difficult and potentially damaging to the vehicle's body paint ).

The tape that I have is the 3M 983-326 ( white-and-red ) in a continuous roll, which has  DOT-C2 rating.  If only amber (yellow) is allowed at the front, I will also purchase some of 3M 983-71 ( yellow ) in a continuous roll.

You mentioned that the white-and-red tape can be used on the side and back of the vehicle.  Can you give me the source of this information?  I ask because this seems to be different from Section 4.21 (3) and (4) of the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations ( that said only amber on the side, and only red on the side-at-the-back and the back ).  I assumed that "only amber" and "only red" excludes white, but do you know that this is not the case?  And if so, can you give me the source of this information?

I would much prefer to use white-and-red reflective tape one the sides and back of the behicle - if it is allowed by regulations - because the white-and-red is much brighter overall than solid red.

I took a look through the document you linked ( Transport Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Technical Standards ), including Section 8 Reflective Device Requirements ( page 29 - 33 ) and Table I-a Required Lamps and Reflective Devices ( page 94 ).  This information in this document seems different from the information in the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations, Section 4.21 Reflective Devices ( Page 19 ).  Do you know why this is, and what are the implications for my own reflective taping? 

Unfortunately I am not familiar with the details of motor vehicle and traffic law enforcement.  If the police decide to scrutinize my reflective tape, what versions of the rules and regulations will they refer to and enforce?  And, on that note, I live in the Greater Vancouver area, and drive in the various cities and municipalities within the area, and also various regions outside of the area.  Concerning my reflective tape, do the police of different areas ( for example, Burnaby has a RCMP detachment, while Vancouver has Vancouver Police ) enforce different regulations?