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What is DOT & SAE Compliant Motorcycle Lighting?
November 1, 2023

What is DOT & SAE Compliant Motorcycle Lighting?

It’s common knowledge that automobiles need safety devices like air bags and seat belts. However, lighting regulations are not at the top of safety conversations. As a rider, seller, or installer of aftermarket lighting products it is critical to be knowledgeable within this space. As is understanding your liability and taking actions to ensure compliance. Custom Dynamics is a leading manufacturer of V-twin lighting. We continue to offer a variety of DOT and SAE compliant motorcycle lighting products. Keeping riders’ safety a priority.

Governing Agencies

All automotive lighting, signaling, and reflective devices are regulated by federal law. These are the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). Likewise, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) establish and administer the FMVSS. They specify requirements for motor vehicles. Including design, construction, performance, and durability. To be DOT compliant, lighting must meet the Section 108 requirements of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS).

SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) is a worldwide organization. They set technical standards for the manufacturing, testing and design of automotive lighting. As experts in their fields, the SAE identifies and explains these standards. SAE standards or “recommended practices” alone do not carry legal merit. However, they are often incorporated into the FMVSS, making them law.

Keep in mind, the DOT is not an approval agency. They do not test products for compliancy. Manufacturers are responsible for their own product testing. Also, to ensure the product is within legal parameters.

States also have their own lighting laws. Yet, those federal DOT laws always take precedence when both exist.

Motorcycle Lighting Laws

Federal law states motorcycle headlamps must illuminate white in color. Yellow or amber colored headlights are illegal. Motorcycle headlamps must also meet the beam aim and photometric standards.

“The light from the lamps should be white.” – SAE J584

Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards No. 108; Motorcycle Headlamps

While headlamps can’t be yellow, many other products can. SAE J583, designates a fog beam pattern. Motorcycle fog lamps are for dust, fog, and other low-visibility conditions. Moreover, they allow for yellow or amber colored light. So, ensure yellow or amber lights on the motorcycle that are not turn signals, indicate SAE compliance by a stamp in the lens. Similarly, the headlight will note DOT markings on the lens.

Risky Business

As a motorcycle rider, product reseller, or installer you assume a risk with illegal lighting products. Did you know if your lighting isn’t compliant, you can face penalties such as a ticket/citation, a fine or even jail time? By law, all headlights and taillights must be DOT compliant for use on roads and highways in all 50 states. It’s critical to understand your liability. Also, take actions that promote compliance with these regulations.

According to this California Headlight Law Article “Not every accident results from the actions of one of the drivers, or even a combination of fault between drivers. This holds in all types of accidents, including headlight accidents. Manufacturers and distributors of headlights and vehicles can also bear liability…”

This Florida Article about having too bright of headlights tells a story of a motorcycle rider on the highway with illegal lighting installed. “The driver who is coming toward you, who is also speeding, gets blinded by your lights. He swerves off the road and hits a natural gas line that was improperly installed too close to the side of the road; the gas leaks out and a 20-square-mile area around Tampa has to be evacuated. Then, the gas explodes and does 5 billion dollars in damage. Well, even if your illegal lights are found only to be 1 percent at fault, the other driver is found 49 percent at fault and the gas company is found 50 percent at fault, you will be liable for 50 million dollars!”

This scenario is an extreme case. But, coast-to-coast the importance of compliant lighting is gaining traction.

Custom Dynamics Compliance Practices

After 20 years of designing and manufacturing LED lighting for motorcycles, Custom Dynamics has rigorous product testing procedures. The growing product line includes a variety of DOT and SAE compliant motorcycle lighting products. You can identify these by a marking on the product, specifically on the lens. The in-house team of engineering professionals focus its efforts on compliance. Soon, a new headlighting offering will be the pinnacle of performance, design, and compliance. Watch for its release from Custom Dynamics in early 2024!

SHOP DOT COMPLIANT LED MOTORCYCLE LIGHTING NOW!

14 comments

  1. Albert Slettebakken on 04.06.2024 at 11:21 am

    What are the chances of the new Shark Demons ever becoming ECE-compliant?

    • Karen on 05.17.2024 at 1:21 pm

      Hi Albert, we are working on ECE certification for our new Shark Demon headlights now.

  2. jamault philippe on 11.05.2022 at 3:02 pm

    Bonjour,
    je possède un street glide cvo 2022 Europeen .Je me trouve en France.
    Je souhaiterais installer des clignotants avant ambre et éclairage blanc.
    J’ai crue comprendre que ce n’était pas possible.
    Vous parlez de modification a faire pour cela;
    Quelles sont ces modifications a effectuer ….Et quelle est la reférence de vos ampoules qui conviendrait a ma moto.
    Cordialement Philippe

    • Karen on 11.07.2022 at 10:33 am

      Custom Dynamics ProBEAM Dynamic Ringz turn signals are available in ECE version with white running light halo and amber turn signals behind a smoked lens. The European spec motorcycle does not have run light power in the front turn signal housing so the LED cluster has a wire lead that is longer to tap into constant power for illuminating the white light. Here is the link to our website: https://www.customdynamics.com/probeam-amber-white-cvo-turn-signals

  3. Fochel on 10.22.2022 at 4:54 pm

    Hi, I drive Street Glide CVO, 2016 -5HD European version! Would you like Pro Beam turn signal inserts with a white ring and ECE test mark for the European market?

    Which do I have to order?
    greetings from Germany

  4. Howard on 05.01.2022 at 1:32 pm

    How close to the DOT maximum allowable candle power are the Gen 4 lights? It would be nice to have all lights on my bike at max allowed values.

  5. AntonioGaits on 12.31.2021 at 3:23 pm

    The technical standards are based on best practices as identified and described by SAE committees and task forces who are experts in their fields. There is a great deal of confusion regarding lighting regulations in the industry. One common mistake is using the term “DOT approved.” The United States Department of Transportation is not an approval agency and will not approve products.

  6. zaid ahmad on 02.11.2021 at 6:00 am

    Germany, so I’m looking for a legal version because you can get here very fast in trouble… There is a version with a ring and one which is without a ring. Which one is the legal and correct version for my signals…
    https://fommy.com/collections/led

    • Erin Armitage on 02.11.2021 at 8:32 am

      Hi Zaid! We’ll email you directly with product/fitment information! We look forward to hearing from you soon!

  7. Daniel on 08.27.2020 at 4:25 am

    Hi,
    I have modified my Road King Special and the signals are next to the headlight now, like at the Streetglide. I’m using the original Harley signals, article 67800167. Which Probeam signals can I use? I live in Germany, so I’m looking for a legal version because you can get here very fast in trouble… There is a version with a ring and one which is without a ring. Which one is the legal and correct version for my signals? Just plug & play also for the European version? Do you ship to Germany, too?
    BR Daniel

    • Erin Armitage on 08.27.2020 at 7:58 am

      Good Morning! Thank you for reaching out regarding your Road King Special! We’ll email you directly to verify proper fitment for your bike!

  8. John M Boivin on 06.15.2020 at 1:37 pm

    After reading this. Is it safe to presume your products are compliant? I’m doing a custombuild and trying to avoid buying multi lights to comply with standards so I can get my vin then change out for the look I really want.

    • Erin Armitage on 06.15.2020 at 2:13 pm

      Good Afternoon, John!

      Custom Dynamics® does offer many DOT/SAE compliant products including (but not limited to) ProBEAM® Turn Signals, ProBEAM® Taillights, ProBEAM® Headlamps/Passing Lamps as well as our new Genesis® 4 LED Turn Signal Inserts! To confirm compliance of the specific product(s) you’re looking to order, might you be able to call us at 1-800-382-1388? Any of our customer service representatives would be happy to confirm/answer any questions you might have! We look forward to hearing from you soon!

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