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Thread: Colorado rules and regulations on rear lighting

  1. #1
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    Colorado rules and regulations on rear lighting

    I am thinking about installing rear mounted lighting that blinks on braking. Does anyone know if it is legal in Colorado. Thanks for the help

  2. #2
    Motorcycleton
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    I found the Colorado DMV rules on-line here:
    http://www.coloradodot.info/business...affic_Code.pdf

    Section 215 on pg 25 applies to signal lamps. I only gave this part a quick reading, but Colorado doesn't seem to have a prohibition against blinking LED-type brake lights. (You may wish to read the rules more carefully and/or consult the Colorado DMV for clarification).

    In Ohio use of flashing signal lights is specifically prohibited except for turn signals, emergency lights, and emergency vehicles. Interestingly the Ohio Motorcycle Safety Dept. (in their booklet) recommends flashing brake lights - this is taken from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation info. I spoke with the OH DMV and was referred to the OH State Highway Patrol's technical advisor to the OH Motorcycle Safety Dept. The SHP representative allowed as how it would be ok (his opinion) to have flashing (LED-type) brake lights as long as they only flashed for a few seconds then were illuminated without flashing. I found some technical papers that tested response times to various flashing brake lights. The LED-type that flashed rapidly were found to improve the response time (e.g., less likelihood to rear-end vehicle ahead).

    I spoke with the AMA legislative support staff and assembled a package for them to use in getting the Ohio law changed. [The AMA's HQ is in Ohio].

    If someone is interested I can find the papers (pdf documents) and/or the links from where they were obtained. It may be necessary to have access to a library or university to get the papers for "free".

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    Automatic flashing brake lights are illegal per Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 108. According to 49 USC 30103, these federal standards take precedence over state laws. Here's the text from 49 USC 30103:

    "When a motor vehicle safety standard is in effect under this chapter, a State or a political subdivision of a State may prescribe or continue in effect a standard applicable to the same aspect of performance of a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment only if the standard is identical to the standard prescribed under this chapter."

    Motorcyclists here in New York used this federal preemption to get the NY Motor Vehicle Code changed regarding helmets. NY used to require reflective material on each side of helmets and a few tickets were actually issued, but the state code was changed since the federal standard does not require this material.
    Karl
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    rangerreece rangerreece's Avatar
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    Federal standards verses state standards and the enforcement there of. Interesting topic for the state of Colorado, where I thought everything was legal now.
    2005 R1200RT
    BMWMOA # 143779
    "Positive Habit Transfer is no substitute for Situational Awareness."

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    I suspect Colorado isn't the only state where state law runs afoul of federal preemption. If you ask your local state legislator about it you'll probably get his or her best WTF look.
    Karl
    2007 R1200ST

  6. #6
    Motorcycleton
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    In my earlier mentioned correspondence with the AMA legislative folks I included Tennessee DMV rule TN-55-9-402 which allows a "continuously flashing light system". A "continuously flashing light system" means a brake light system in which the brake lamp pulses rapidly for no more than five (5) seconds when the brake is applied, and then converts to a continuous light as a normal brake lamp until the time that the brake is released.

    There are quite a few of these type of flashing brake light systems sold and used in the USA. I don't think that the FMVSS 108 holds much sway or is effectively enforced vis-a-vis flashing brake lights for motorcycles. I'm happy to risk the wrath of the federales to reduce the risk of being rear-ended by someone.
    Last edited by robsryder; 01-26-2014 at 12:19 AM.

  7. #7
    Motorcycleton
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    Technical papers related to flashing brake lights -

    "A field study on validation of supplemental brake lamp with flashing turn signals for motorcycles", International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics 31 (2003) 295-302

    "A human factors study on a modified stop lamp for motorcycles", International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics 36 (2006) 533-540

    "Attention-capturing properties of high frequency luminance flicker: Implications for brake light conspicuity", Transportation Research Part F 10 (2007) 22-32

    "Development of a high-functionality tail lamp system in the second phase of the ASV program", JSAE Review 23 (2002) 371-377

    "Evaluation of a sudden brake warning system: Effect on the response time of the following driver", Applied Ergonomics 41 (2010) 569-576

    "Evaluation of Emergency Brake Light Display (EBLD) systems", TNO Human Factors, TNO-report TM-04-C020, (2004)

    Other papers related to brake light and signaling effectiveness -

    "Effects of turn-signal colour on reaction times to brake signals", ERGONOMICS, 1997, VOL. 40, NO. 1, 62-68

    "Effectiveness Estimates for Center High Mounted Stop Lamps: A Six-Year Study", Accid. Anal. and Prev., Vol. 28, No. 2, (1996) 201-208

    "Vehicle-Based Countermeasures For Signal and Stop Sign Violation", DOT HS 809 716, (2004)

    "Human Factors Field Evaluation of Automotive Headway Maintenance / Collision Warning Devices", Hum. Factors 39/2 (1997) 216-229

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    Quote Originally Posted by robsryder View Post
    There are quite a few of these type of flashing brake light systems sold and used in the USA. I don't think that the FMVSS 108 holds much sway or is effectively enforced vis-a-vis flashing brake lights for motorcycles. I'm happy to risk the wrath of the federales to reduce the risk of being rear-ended by someone.
    The feds won't come after you (that's a state responsibility), but they can and have gone after retailers who sell non-conforming products. I believe that's one reason why 1 Off Motorsports, which used to sell HID conversions, went out of business. Flashing brake lights just aren't on the fed's radar yet.
    Karl
    2007 R1200ST

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    rangerreece rangerreece's Avatar
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    Gentleman, a humble submission/interrogative:
    Does anyone else, while stopped at a red light/stop sign flash there brake lights manually with there're front brake lever like I do when I see cars approaching in my side views? I flash anyone that comes up on me until I can tell they are stopping based on their closure rate at which point I go solid on the front brake. I also have other strategies like placing the bike betwix left and right lanes so I can squeeze between the two in the event I have someone not slowing.
    I personally shy away from technology that would cause me to not employ these and other strategies as I want to stay muy sharpo on el bikeo... Pardon my pig Spanish.
    2005 R1200RT
    BMWMOA # 143779
    "Positive Habit Transfer is no substitute for Situational Awareness."

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    thanks

    Thank you everyone for the great input and it looks like I need to do my homework on this one.

  11. #11
    Benchwrenching PGlaves's Avatar
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    I have no idea what various states may have for laws, or for that matter what the Fed standards are. But Voni and I have on various bikes flashing brake lights. Now on our bikes we have ridden in 49 states and all of the Canadian provinces. On bikes with flashy brake lights maybe only 30 or 40 states.

    I've never given it a thought, nor been cited, nor even ever been stopped for a chat about my brake lights.

    You are all free to do as much research as you see as needed. I will just continue to ride my bike with the flashy brake lights until told I can't. Then I'll unplug that wire until I am out of that state.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell
    http://www.bigbend.net/users/glaves

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    not so retired henzilla's Avatar
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    We have had "flashy" brake light's on many bikes and thru many jurisdictions. Never an issue. There are many outdated federal laws that I most likely break w/out even knowing they are there. I also will continue to use until asked not to...until I am out of that overly ridiculous enforced area. The charcoal canister comes to mind...who really knows it should be there? Can you imagine how many of us would have to get off the road?

    Most of them are also set in the triangle pattern similar to the front lights on almost all our bikes. If it improves anyone's rear view of our small profile...I will use them. Most of the set-ups only flash for about 3 seconds then go solid...not a steady flashing the whole time the brake is engaged.

    I just installed a Kisan unit on our R12S that flashes the OEM LED tail light by interrupting the ground circuit...no CANBUS faults. It flashes so rapidly for a few cycles ,then slows to a solid light. There is no way I could replicate that manually. Had a friend behind me the other day that said the bike just popped visually...hard to ignore. So to me, mission accomplished.


    I still use the tap of the lever/pedal to warn folks as well on most of our bikes, which causes them to rapid flash for 3 seconds again. I cannot replicate that flash rate manually.
    I have also been right in front of LEO's , fed/state/local in three countries,including Colorado, and never had them bring them up. Even the yellow Moto Lites have never been brought up.

    As often said here...ride your own ride and what you feel is your level of "lawlessness"
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    Survivor akbeemer's Avatar
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    Like Steve and Paul, Annie and I use flashing brakes and have never been questioned as we rode around the states or Canada. We will continue to be rebels, until we get our hands slapped. I suspect most LEOs have bigger things to worry about even if they are aware of the restriction, and appreciate at least the intent of being safer.
    Kevin Huddy
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    The fact that state legislators and local law enforcement don't know the rules is a sad comment on their competency. And as I said in an earlier post, the FMVSSs don't apply to individuals. They apply to manufacturers, dealers, repair shops, and parts vendors.
    Karl
    2007 R1200ST

  15. #15
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    Public Flashing

    Quote Originally Posted by Telebeamer View Post
    I am thinking about installing rear mounted lighting that blinks on braking. Does anyone know if it is legal in Colorado. Thanks for the help
    I've ridden my home state, Colorado, and across the country several times since 2006, when I installed a flashing tail light in my GS. No problems with the law. The flasher flashes a set number of times when either front or rear brake is applied, then goes to solid red. I've noticed the difference in added conspicuity (this safety).

    I also use the front brake lever when stopped at a sign or light or in traffic and vehicles approach from the rear. I also have a pre-planned exit and keep a eye on them should they be, uuuuum, 'preoccupied' and fail to stop.

    Too much information can be detrimental to your safety. BUY THE FLASHER! And ...

    Ride Well,
    // Stopwatch //
    Thornton, Colorado

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