European Cars Only Have One Reverse Light? (Explained)

We often think about features like airbags, seatbelts, and anti-lock brakes when it comes to car safety. However, one safety feature many drivers do not even think about is reverse lights.

In Europe, it’s common for cars to have only one reverse light, while in other parts of the world, two reverse lights are standard. Note that there are many ways European cars are different.

We’ll explore why European cars have one reverse light below and what impact it has on road safety and its significant implications for road visibility.

1. European Regulation for Vehicle Lighting

The European regulation for vehicle lighting is a set of legal standards that all motor vehicles must comply with to be sold and operated within Europe.

The regulations aim to ensure that all vehicles on the road are equipped with lighting that meets minimum safety standards and can adequately illuminate the vehicle and its surroundings.

The European regulations for vehicle lighting cover a range of different areas, including

  • Headlights
  • Taillights
  • Brake lights
  • Turn signals and other lighting equipment, such as
  • Fog lights and
  • Hazard lights

European Union regulations require that all passenger vehicles must have one rear fog light and a reverse light as well.

Having only one reverse light is said to ensure that drivers do not confuse the reverse light with other similar operations, like braking.

The allowable range of intensity for a rear reverse light is 150 – 300 Candelas, which is exactly within the range of a U.S. stop lamp.

The legal framework for lighting products and cars in Europe is the regulation on energy labeling for light sources (EU) 2019/2015 that repeals and replaces regulation (EU) No 874/20124.

This, therefore, means that the European regulation regarding reverse lights is that vehicles must have one reverse light, as the regulation for lighting products is the regulation on energy labeling for light sources (EU) 2019/2015.

It is important to note that European regulations for vehicle lighting are regularly updated to reflect new technological advancements and to address emerging safety concerns.

Manufacturers are responsible for ensuring that their vehicles meet all applicable regulations before they can be sold and operated on European roads.

2. Car Conversion and Manufacturing Costs

Having one reverse light can reduce manufacturing costs because it is cheaper to convert a car from a left-hand drive (LHD) to a right-hand drive (RHD) with one reverse light.

It is mandatory to have a single rear reverse light either in the middle or on the offside of the vehicle, which means that the single reverse light would have to be moved to either the LHD or RHD.

Additionally, the manufacturing costs of a vehicle with one reverse light tend to be lower than the average, as it requires fewer materials, less intense labor, and less installation time.

With a single reverse light, the manufacturer only needs to install and wire one light, which automatically simplifies production and reduces the number of components needed.

As this can result in lower production costs for the manufacturer, it can also translate into a lower price for the consumer.

3. Effects of Single Reverse Light in Vehicle Design

It can be said that having only one reverse light can improve a vehicle’s aesthetics in various ways.

Having one reverse light can give your vehicle a more streamlined and cohesive design when paired with other design elements in the car.

Also, a single reverse light reduces visual clutter at the rear of the vehicle, which makes it look cleaner and more modern. It as well gives the vehicle a more minimalist look, which is most times desirable.

It’s important to note that aesthetics are subjective and can vary based on personal preferences and trends.

Meanwhile, here are some solutions if your car won’t reverse but will go forward. Of course, a more chronic scenario would be when your car doesn’t go forward or reverse.

4. Single Reverse Lights for Driver Safety

When a car is put in reverse, the single light at the rear signals to other drivers that the car is backing up.

This feature is beneficial in reducing confusion for other drivers on the road, as it avoids the conflict of multiple lights, indicating different actions.

For instance, if a car with two reverse lights located close to each other is backing up, it would be quite difficult for other drivers to determine if the car is backing up or if its brake lights are on.

Without determining the correct course of action to take, this could result in accidents.

Additionally, many drivers admit that a single reverse light is better than a pair, as it is less likely to be confused with brake lights.

So, drivers see a single bright light when you reverse, then a pair when they apply the brakes, which is less obvious when there are two reverse lights.

5. Variations in Reverse Light Regulations and Preferences

Different countries have different regulations or preferences regarding the number of reverse lights in a vehicle. The regulatory law backing Europe for years requires one reverse light installed on vehicles.

In other countries, two reverse lights being installed in vehicles could be a result of safety concerns or preferences for additional lighting.

Car manufacturers can also choose to include multiple reverse lights as a standard feature even if it’s not required by regulations.

This could be due to their internal safety standards or to cater to specific market preferences.

Meanwhile, there are other differences between American and European cars.

Final Thoughts

The regulation requiring only one reverse light on European cars has been in place for years and has been successful in reducing confusion for other drivers on the road.

While European vehicle laws may seem strange to people from other parts of the world, it has worked well for the continent for a long time.


4 Essential Things To Know About Your Car’s Reverse Lights | Your Mechanic


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