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So, What’s the Deal with Reflectors?

Rear Facing Reflector, OzRider

There’s been a fair amount of discussion in forums and social media lately regarding the legal requirements for motorcycle reflectors. This came after reports of riders being fined for not having side reflectors fitted to the front fork of their bikes.

The purpose of this article is to clear up some of the confusion regarding the legal requirements for motorcycle reflectors in Australia.

ADR – Australian Design Rules

According to the Australian Government website, the Australian Design Rules (ADR’s) are national standards for vehicle safety, anti-theft and emissions. They cover issues such as occupant protection, structures, lighting, noise, engine exhaust emissions, braking and various other items.

ADR 19 is the set of technical rules which specify the requirements for the installation of lighting and light-signalling devices on L-group vehicles (two and three wheeled vehicles). It defines, among other things, the specifications for side and rear reflectors in this category.

State Reflector Rules

As with many other road rules, the reflector rules vary between states in Australia. All states require motorcycles to be fitted with a rear reflector, however, things change when it comes to side reflectors..

Rear-Facing Reflector

Rear Facing Reflector, OzRider

The NSW Road Transport Regulation 2017 Part 7 defines the rules and regulations for vehicles lights and reflectors. It clearly states that a rear reflector is mandatory: “A motor bike, a sidecar attached to a motor bike, and a motor trike, must have a rear-facing red reflector” (Division 16, cf ALVSR 2015 r 105; 2007 reg Sch 2 cl 118). 

All the other states have a similar regulation, making it mandatory for a motorcycle to be fitted with a rear reflector: 

Victoria (Road Safety (Vehicles) Regulations, Division 15, page 297)
Queensland (Vehicle Standards and Modifications, Vehicle Standards, Motorcycle, Standards, Reflectors)
South Australia ( Road Traffic (Light Vehicle Standards) Rules 2018, Division 16, page 56)
Tasmania (Vehicle and Traffic (Vehicle Standards) Regulations, Division 15)
Western Australia ( Road Traffic (Vehicles) Regulations 2014, Subdivision 15, page 209)

Side reflectors

Side Reflector, OzRider

Side reflectors, however, are only compulsory on pole-type trailers in most states (NSW, VIC, SA, Tassie and WA). They are optional on motorcycles in all these states (see links and page numbers above).

Queensland is different though. The Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) makes a distinction between Motorcycles manufactured before and after 1 October 1990. Motorcycles manufactured after that date must have side reflectors compliant with ADR 19, while for those manufactured prior to that date, side reflectors are optional.

Defect Notices

There’s been an increasing number of reports of riders getting defect notices for not having reflectors fitted to their bikes. Many riders remove the rear and side reflectors from their bikes as they believe it is more aesthetic. And indeed, many bikes simply look better without the reflectors, which often do not match the colour of the bike or just look out of place.

However, it is important for everyone to know the legal requirements in their respective state. It is debatable if a rear reflector indeed contributes to safety. However, it is mandatory in all states in Australia and we must obey the law or bear the consequences.

Unfortunately it appears that the NSW police (and to some extent the VIC and QLD police) are less concerned about road safety and are far more concerned about the state revenue. Surely reckless drivers on our roads pose a greater public safety concern than the absence of a rear reflector.

Time to unify

The confusion regarding reflector regulations is a fairly minor issue. However, it is part of a bigger problem of having different road rules in different states. In my opinion road rules should be unified across all states and territories in Australia. We are one country, people often travel between states and move from state to state. There is no reason for us to have different road rules. It’s time unify.

Be safe. Enjoy the ride.

8 thoughts on “So, What’s the Deal with Reflectors?”

  1. Its time to unify alright, but whats your contribution to it? Are you starting a petition? Do you have names and emails of politicians that are responsible for these laws, and an email template that we readers could send them asking them to revise the ADR?

    1. Thank you for your comment.

      I do not yet have a template or a petition, but I’m sure you and I can work together on pushing this issue.
      And BTW, it’s not the ADR that needs to be changed as the ADR is federal. It’s the states’ regulations which are different between states and need to be unified.

  2. I’ve been to court in NSW recently. Side reflectors are not optional. They are mandatory. The Judge, my Barrister, the Prosecutor and the HWP argued about it for hours.

  3. Well Oz Rider has anyone taken them to court and won with a precedent, I too reading the ADRs thought it was optional however redead several times and now belive 1 is require at front amber or rear red on the side of the bike.

    1. Personally I have not heard of anyone going to court and being found guilty for not having side reflectors. The only case I’ve heard about is in the previous comment on this post, however, I am not familiar with the details of the case.
      The regulation state clearly that only rear reflectors are mandatory. All links in the article.

  4. As a rider in QLD, I can confirm that the QPS indeed singles out the ‘side reflector’ for defect notices on any large, organised ride as a quick and simple (as even untrained coppers can pick a lack of reflector) way to disrupt motorcycle riders and their legal activities. However, many new motorcycles are ADR compliant and sold in QLD without side reflectors!

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