Q&A - Backup Light Confusion
Q: How is it that car manufacturers are allowed to use reverse lights for functions other than reversing?
I find it very confusing in a parking lot when I am slowing down for a vehicle that has reverse lights on, only to find people walking towards it or away from it and the vehicle is simply using the reverse lights as a "parking light" or some such thing.
A: Vehicle equipment standards are set by the federal government, often in lock step with the United States.
It's up to the provinces to create laws to enforce compliance with the federal standards.
Technical Standard 108 of the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations outlines the standards behind lights and reflectors.
Our Motor Vehicle Act Regulations require that:
4.18 (1) A vehicle may be equipped with not more than 2 backup lamps, mounted on the rear of the vehicle, that are capable of displaying only white light to the rear of the vehicle.
(2) A backup lamp must illuminate only when the vehicle is in reverse gear.
So, technically, if you throw it into park, lock the doors and walk away, the backup lights must not be on.