Search Cars for Sale

Here’s Why Some Trucks Have Those Little Orange Lights on the Roof

Have you ever looked at a heavy-duty pickup truck and wondered why it has little orange marker lights on the roof? Well, as it turns out, there’s a reason, and they’re not just there for show: They’re mandated by the government on vehicles that reach a certain size, and they’re there to protect you. Or something.

First, a brief overview of what I’m talking about. As you can see in the images above, those little orange marker lights are mounted on the roof of larger vehicles. Look closely and you’ll see them on everything from box trucks and vans to heavy-duty pickup trucks to semi-truck tractors. They’re always coupled with some red lights in back, roughly the same size, with their placement depending on exactly what the vehicle is.

But here’s the thing: When you think about them objectively, they make no sense. They provide virtually no illumination, they don’t help drivers see, and they’re mounted too high on trucks to actually do any real, productive work. And yet, they’re there for a reason: The government mandates them as a safety feature. I have no real idea why.

And yet they do. If you make a vehicle that’s over 80 inches wide, it starts to fall into various "commercial vehicle" categories, and one of the requirements of vehicles this size is that they have — in the words of our government — "three amber front and three red rear identification lamps spaced between 6 and 12 inches apart at the center of the front and rear of the vehicle, as high as practicable." This is why you see these lights on an F-150 Raptor (over 80 inches wide) and not on a regular F-150 (79.9 inches wide — likely not a coincidence). It’s also why you see the lights on heavy-duty trucks and not light-duty models.

And so that’s why certain vehicles have little orange marker lights on the roof. Now, every time you’ll see them, you’ll know they’re mandated by the government. Though if you’re like me, you’re probably still a little fuzzy on exactly why they’re mandated. Nonetheless, they’re there. Find a truck for sale

Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.

MORE FROM OVERSTEER:
Video | An Old Buick Is the Best Used Car Value for Broke Millennials
Video | I Raced My E63 AMG Wagon Against an Audi R8 and a Porsche 911
Here Are 11 Enthusiast Cars for Snowy Climates

 

Sign up for Autotrader newsletters

The best cars and best deals delivered to your inbox

Email Address 

By subscribing, you agree to our privacy policy

Where You Can Buy

Loading dealers...

24 COMMENTS

  1. These lights are extremely helpful in blizzard and white out conditions. They make the trucks more visible as the orange lights cut through the snow and fog better than white lights or tail lights.

  2. If you see cab lights coming your way and let’s say you’re on a thin road and you’re in a wide truck (or hauling a wide trailer) …guess what. Cab lights may have just saved you from crashing, because one ( or both) of you made provisions to get over. Now, concerning 3/4 and 1 ton trucks that are not 80 inches wide, these marker lights are completely optional. Its good thing too, I would install them if  I am consistently hauling loads at night with a wide trailer, for example… farmers…totally a visual safety regulation. NOT to see if your rig is close to a tunnels low clearance.  A trucker knows the height of his truck. And all low clearance structures are identified with signs and such.

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles

2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid: First Look

The 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid jumps to the head of the hybrid class.

Best Truck Deals: April 2021

These are the best deals on trucks for the month of April.

Search By Style

More Articles Like This