Pilot Vehicles, Light Bars, and Uses in NZ

A BeaconIn New Zealand, there are rules for the use of light bars or beacons. Not all vehicles can be fitted with these speciality lights.

What is a Light Bar?

A vehicle LED light bar is a type of beacon generally found on pilot vehicles.

A pilot vehicle — sometimes called an escort vehicle — is a vehicle (car, van, pickup truck, SUV, lorry, or some other type of vehicle) that is used to escort another vehicle, often a truck with a large load. Sometimes, the pilot vehicle leads a convoy of other vehicles. It may provide guidance when other vehicles are driving through a construction site. In airports, a pilot vehicle guides taxiing aircraft from the runway to the tarmac.

Light bars are typically installed on pilot vehicles to distinguish them from other vehicles and alert other motorists.

What Light Bars are Installed on Pilot Vehicles?

On a pilot vehicle, an amber light bar is usually installed. Other pilot vehicles also use a combination of an amber and purple light. For loads 5 metres wide, a pilot vehicle can use an amber beacon or light bar. For a load over 5 metres wide, a lead pilot vehicle is required to activate amber and purple light bars. This lead pilot is followed by another pilot vehicle, which has an amber beacon and a warning sign to warn other vehicles that a wide load is following.

The overdimension vehicle should also have its amber light bar. The beacon should be activated if it follows a pilot vehicle. If it is not led by a pilot vehicle, and the vehicle and its load are less than 3.7 metres wide, the beacon is only required to be activated during dark hours. If it’s over 3.7 metres wide, the light bar should be on at all times.

Vehicles that have no reason to use a light bar may be in violation of the law if they are installed with light bars or beacons. These lights are for the safety of motorists and pedestrians and are not to be used as decoration. Before purchasing a specific type of light bar, find out if it is legal for you to install it on your vehicle.