Optional Side Marker Downlights

‘Optional Side Marker Downlights’ (OSMDLS) were first designed by Jim Thomson in 2012. After much consultation OSMDLS were accepted by the UK’s Department for Transport (DfT) on the 05.05.2015 for use on the roads of the UK. They are officially referred to as ‘Optional Side Marker’ Downlights, (OSMDLS).

The OSMDLS are designed as an adjacent lateral lighting facility to project a suitable ‘area of high risk’ adjacent to, but along the complete sides of the vehicle from front to rear (daylight intensities permitting). This is especially helpful in poorer lighting conditions.

In line with ‘NEW’ Highway Code changes from January 29th 2022, and Operation Close Pass being ran by 39 of the 43 Police Forces in the UK: the ‘area of high risk’ should be kept unobstructed by both the Vulnerable Road User (VRU), when nearing the principal vehicle, and by the principal vehicle driver when overtaking cyclists to ensure safe passage.

Independent OFFICIAL trial of Optional Side Marker Downlights (OSMDLS)

As a result of the reduction in vehicle and property damage during every-day manoeuvres, incidents and accidents on the road and the benefits to drivers being able to see along the sides of the truck clearer and the increased Corporate image to Companies operating the trucks with the OSMDLS, Transport for London (TfL) commissioned an OFFICIAL independent trial of the new Vehicle Avoidance Lights (VALs) for themselves on 24 London Buses operated by Metroline. The independent trial was conducted by Loughborough University. The VAL is a robust ‘all-in-one’ mandatory side marker lamp with the inclusion of the ‘Optional Side Marker Downlight’, all within the one assembly.

Interviews were conducted at the end of the trial and included a selection of bus drivers, a garage manager, a police officer, a claims manager, a haulage truck owner/driver and a coach workshop manager. The interviews from the above groups were found to be positive and in favour of the ‘Optional Side Marker’ downlights (OSMDLS). The participants discussed various advantages of the lights; they suggested that the system made driving the bus easier: It makes life easier definitely, it makes life easy.” All of the participants agreed with this sentiment. They also expressed the opinion that the lights would be especially useful for Central London routes where there is a large number of passengers and pedestrians. None of the drivers had any incidents or near misses when they had the lights operational on the bus.




 Vehicle Avoidance Lights as seen in


The new Vehicle Avoidance Light (VAL), all-in-one unit was designed and included a side marker lamp and the OSMDL with some adjustable angular increments. Further angular increments have been added so that the ‘area of high risk’ can be projected out further, when being fitted closer to the ground. The VALs with OSMDLS can be fitted to buses, trucks, trailers, vans, motorhomes, caravans and even some cars.

As already suggested the ‘area of high risk’ is not just a warning to other road users to steer clear of it, but it also reminds VRU’s of their own safety obligations by not getting too close, by keeping the ‘area of high risk’ unobstructed. We all have a responsibility and obligation to ensure each other’s safety by staying safely distanced from each other.

Even if VRU’s are distracted, perhaps when using the mobile phone, listening to personal headphones or they could be hearing impaired, they are not sole reliant on audio warnings. They can see the ‘area of high risk’ from the projected footprint (daylight intensities permitting) and react accordingly.

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