An important piece of safety equipment that is often overlooked on all variety of vehicles is the humble reflector. Why do I need reflectors? I've got lights! I heard this many times at the roadside after pointing out a lack of reflectors to a driver. True, but what happens if you park, break down or have to leave a disabled trailer at the roadside? What protects you and other road users at night? The reflectors.
Sad to say, but I can point to a fatal collision that I helped investigate where a lack of reflectors might have played a part. Maybe, just maybe the person hit would still be alive if the reflectors on his vehicle had been in good condition.
Generally, all vehicles require amber reflectors at the sides on the front and red reflectors on the sides and the rear. They are identified by the letter A in the collection of identifiers on the lens after DOT or SAE. Reflective markings, the long strips often seen on heavy commercial vehicles are acceptable reflectors when they are marked SAE-C, SAE-C2, 3 or 4.
The front of a vehicle is the only side where reflectors are not required. I can see a concern when someone decides not to follow the rules and parks on the wrong side of the road, especially when visibility is poor at night or when oncoming vehicle headlights reduce your ability to see ahead.
Who knew that an inexpensive piece of plastic could be so important?
In the UK, for decades now it has been mandatory for all vehicles to be equipped with reflective license plates:
All vehicles manufactured after 1 January 1973 must display number plates of reflex-reflecting material, white at the front and yellow at the rear, with black characters. This type of reflecting plate was permitted as an option from 1968: many vehicles first registered before 1973 may therefore carry the white/yellow reflective plates and, where they were first registered during or after 1968, they may have carried such plates since new.
Trailers and caravans are also required to carry a plate, and this must match the towing vehicle.