2010 Tennessee Code
Title 55 - Motor and Other Vehicles
Chapter 9 - EquipmentLighting Regulations
Part 4 - Lighting Regulations
55-9-402 - Lights required on motor vehicles Exceptions Regulations as to color, type and visibility distance.

55-9-402. Lights required on motor vehicles Exceptions Regulations as to color, type and visibility distance.

(a)  (1)  Every motor vehicle other than a motorcycle, road roller, road machinery or farm tractor shall be equipped with at least two (2) and not more than four (4) headlights, with at least one (1) on each side of the front of the motor vehicle. No nonemergency vehicle shall operate or install emergency flashing light systems, such as strobe, wig-wag, or other flashing lights within the headlight assembly or grill area of the vehicle; provided, however, that a school bus may operate a flashing, wig-wag lighting system within the headlight assembly of the vehicle when the vehicle's visual stop signs are actuated for receiving or discharging school children.

     (2)  Auxiliary road lighting lamps may be used, but not more than two (2) of the lamps shall be lighted at any one (1) time in addition to the two (2) required headlights.

     (3)  No spotlight or auxiliary lamp shall be so aimed upon approaching another vehicle that any part of the high intensity portion of the beam therefrom is directed beyond the left side of the motor vehicle upon which the spotlight or auxiliary lamp is mounted, nor more than one hundred feet (100¢) ahead of the motor vehicle.

(b)  (1)  Every motor vehicle shall be equipped with two (2) red tail lamps and two (2) red stoplights on the rear of the vehicle, and one (1) tail lamp and one (1) stoplight shall be on each side, except that passenger cars manufactured or assembled prior to January 1, 1939, trucks manufactured or assembled prior to January 1, 1968, and motorcycles and motor-driven cycles shall have at least one (1) red tail lamp and one (1) red stoplight. No non-emergency vehicle shall operate or install emergency flashing light systems such as strobe, wig-wag, or other flashing lights in tail light lamp, stoplight area, or factory installed emergency flasher and backup light area; provided, however, that the foregoing prohibition shall not apply to the utilization of a continuously flashing light system. For the purposes of this part, “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.

     (2)  The stoplight shall be so arranged as to be actuated by the application of the service or foot brake and shall be capable of being seen and distinguished from a distance of one hundred feet (100¢) to the rear of a motor vehicle in normal daylight, but shall not project a glaring or dazzling light.

     (3)  The stoplight may be incorporated with the tail lamp.

     (4)  Motor vehicle tail light lamps may operate as following:

          (A)  A white backup light operates when the motor vehicle is in reverse;

          (B)  When the driver is in a panic stop condition going forward, the backup lamp pulses or flashes red; and

          (C)  Upon normal stops of the motor vehicle, there is no action by the backup light.

(c)  Each lamp and stoplight required in this section shall be in good condition and operational.

(d)  (1)  No vehicle operated in this state shall be equipped with any flashing red or white light or any combination of red or white lights that displays to the front of the vehicle except school buses, a passenger motor vehicle operated by a rural mail carrier of the United States postal service while performing the duties of a rural mail carrier, authorized law enforcement vehicles only when used in combination with a flashing blue light, and emergency vehicles used in firefighting, including ambulances, emergency vehicles used in firefighting that are owned or operated by the division of forestry, firefighting vehicles, rescue vehicles, privately owned vehicles of regular or volunteer firefighters certified in § 55-9-201(c), or other emergency vehicles used in firefighting owned, operated, or subsidized by the governing body of any county or municipality.

     (2)  Any emergency rescue vehicle owned, titled and operated by a state chartered rescue squad, a member of the Tennessee Association of Rescue Squads, privately owned vehicles of regular or volunteer firefighters certified in § 55-9-201(c), and marked with lettering at least three inches (3²) in size and displayed on the left and right sides of the vehicle designating it an “Emergency Rescue Vehicle,” any authorized civil defense emergency vehicle displaying the appropriate civil defense agency markings of at least three inches (3²), and any ambulance or vehicle equipped to provide emergency medical services properly licensed as required in the state and displaying the proper markings, shall also be authorized to be lighted in one (1) or more of the following manners:

          (A)  A red or red/white visibar type with public address system;

          (B)  A red or red/white oscillating type light; and

          (C)  Blinking red or red/white lights, front and rear.

     (3)  Any vehicle, other than a school bus, a passenger motor vehicle operated by a rural mail carrier of the United States postal service while performing the duties of a rural mail carrier or an emergency vehicle authorized by this section to display flashing red or red/white lights, or authorized law enforcement vehicles using red, white, and blue lights in combination, that displays any such lights shall be considered in violation of this subsection (d).

(e)  (1)  Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, nothing in this section shall prohibit a highway maintenance or utility vehicle, or any other type vehicle or equipment participating, in any fashion, with highway or utility construction, maintenance, or inspection, from operating a white, amber, or white and amber light system on any location on the vehicle or equipment, other than in the tail light lamp, stoplight area, or factory installed emergency flasher and backup light area, if the light system is a strobe, flashing, oscillating, or revolving system, while the vehicle or equipment is parked upon, entering or leaving any highway or utility construction, maintenance, repair or inspection site.

     (2)  As used in this subsection (e), “utility” means any person, municipality, county, metropolitan government, cooperative, board, commission, district, or any entity created or authorized by public act, private act, or general law to provide electricity, natural gas, water, waste water services, telephone service, or any combination thereof, for sale to consumers in any particular service area.

     (3)  As used in subdivision (e)(2), “cooperative” means any cooperative providing utility services including, but not limited to, electric or telephone services, or both.

     (4)  Nothing in this subsection (e) imposes any duty or obligation to install or utilize the lighting systems allowed in this section.

(f)  Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, nothing in this section shall prohibit a motor vehicle used for the driver education and training course for Class D vehicles as provided by § 55-50-322(f) from operating an amber light-emitting diode (LED) light system on the front and rear of such vehicle other than in the taillight lamp, stoplight area, or factory-installed emergency flasher and backup light area. The amber light-emitting diode light system shall not be placed in the driver's line of sight. Nothing in this subsection (f) imposes any duty or obligation to install or utilize the lighting system allowed in this subsection (f).

(g)  A violation of this section is a Class C misdemeanor.

[Acts 1931, ch. 82, § 15; 1937, ch. 245, § 5; 1941, ch. 121, § 1; C. Supp. 1950, § 2700.16 (Williams, § 2695); Acts 1957, ch. 51, § 1; 1969, ch. 40, § 1; 1970, ch. 598, § 1; 1975, ch. 342, § 1; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 59-905; Acts 1981, ch. 111, §§ 1, 2; 1982, ch. 850, § 3; 1989, ch. 173, §§ 2, 3; 1989, ch. 591, § 113; 1991, ch. 221, § 1; 1997, ch. 299, §§ 1-5; 2003, ch. 67, § 1; 2004, ch. 474, § 1; 2005, ch. 154, §§ 1-4; 2006, ch. 584, §§ 1, 2; 2008, ch. 967, § 2.]  
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