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If you ride a motorcycle on a public road there are rules about the type of lights and reflectors that must be fitted to your motorcycle. These rules are set down in the Road Traffic (Lighting of Vehicles) Regulations, 1963 (as amended). The Regulations aim to prevent accidents and protect the lives of road users. The Garda Síochána are responsible for enforcing the law on motorcycle lights.


Motorcycles must have:


  • One head lamp: fitted to the front of the motorcycle to adequately light the road ahead with a white or yellow light. The lamp should light the road ahead for a distance of 99 metres (325 feet) or 30.5 metres (100 feet) when dipped, and a reasonable distance for low-powered motorcycles.
  • One rear lamp: fitted to the rear of the motorcycle. This lamp should provide a red light that is visible for 152 metres (500 feet) when lit.
  • One rear reflector: this is a red reflector that can be seen for a distance of 99 metres (325 feet) to the rear when the headlights of another vehicle shine directly on it.
  • Registration plate lighting: this is a white light to illuminate the rear registration plate so that each letter and number can be easily read from a distance of 20 metres (65 feet) to the rear.
  • Indicators: flashing lights fitted to a motorcycle to let other road users know that the driver intends to turn right or left.
  • Position lamp: fitted up to 1.5 metres (5 feet) from the ground to provide a white light to the front which is visible for 152 metres (500 feet). This lamp must be 7 watts or less. A position lamp is only needed if the motorcycle is not fitted with a head lamp or if a side-car is attached.

Motorcycle side-cars must have:

  • One white position lamp
  • One red rear lamp
  • One red rear reflector

Use of a head light

The head light on your motorcycle should be dipped in the following situations:

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  • Meeting oncoming vehicles (for example, vehicles coming towards you from the opposite direction)
  • In built-up areas where public lighting is provided and special speed limit areas
  • In times of poor visibility (for example, heavy fog, snow, rain or dust)
  • Travelling behind another vehicle
  • When failing to use your head light would cause an inconvenience to other road users

Lighting-up hours

All motorcyclists must use lights (other than stop lights) during lighting-up hours. Lighting-up hours start from half an hour after sunset, and end half an hour before sunrise. If you are using your motorcycle during the day when visibility is poor, you must use your lights. If you are using lights on your motorcycle, you should ensure they are dipped when approaching other road users.


Most motorcycles are fitted with lights and reflectors as standard. You can purchase replacement lights from your local motorcycle shop. If you are unsure if your motorcycle complies with these regulations, you should contact your nearest Garda station for advice and information.

Page edited: 16 April 2019