What are CMV Conspicuity Requirements?
Table of Contents

    What are CMV Conspicuity Requirements?

    Owners and drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) have a responsibility to adhere to conspicuity requirements. If they do not, they might be more likely to be involved in an accident that causes injury to a victim.

    Commercial motor vehicle conspicuity requirements apply to semi trucks and other similar vehicles and are in regard to the use and placement of reflexive tape. Adhering to these requirements can lower the chances of certain auto accidents occurring. Reflexive tape must be placed in certain locations, such as the lower rear, upper rear, and sides of a vehicle. The materials must be visible, as non-reflective tape is ineffective. Furthermore, the products used must be certified by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard. When vehicles do not adhere to CMV conspicuity requirements, severe collisions might occur, leaving victims with damages that can likely be compensated for in a lawsuit.

    To schedule a free discussion of your case with The Reiff Law Firm, call our Reading, PA truck accident lawyers today at (215) 709-6940.

    What Are Conspicuity Requirements for CMVs?

    The Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have had rules in place for many years regarding the conspicuity requirements for commercial motor vehicles. Essentially, these rules dictate that semi trucks, or other similarly large vehicles, place reflexive tape on specific areas so that they are visible to motorists at night or at other times when visibility might be low.


    Reflexive tape, or retroreflective sheeting, must be placed on specific areas of a commercial motor vehicle to adhere to federal requirements. These locations are the upper rear of the trailer, the lower rear of the trailer, and the sides of the trailer. When reflective materials are placed properly at these locations, other motorists can more easily see the outline of the trailer. Reflective tape running along the side of the trailer can also help avoid collisions at intersections. Conspicuity requirements also apply to other vehicles, such as tractors without trailers, tankers, and flatbeds. Because the shapes of these vehicles vary, so do the locations where reflexive tape must be placed. Generally speaking, such materials must be placed on a vehicle’s sides, lower rear, and upper rear, differing slightly depending on the vehicle’s shape. In addition to having to be placed at specific locations, the reflexive tape must also be of the proper length. For example, the tape that must be placed on the upper rear area of a trailer must be twelve inches long.


    For motorists to meet conspicuity requirements, the reflexive materials applied to their vehicles must be visible. Otherwise, they cannot be seen by other motorists. If the tape has degraded, truck drivers or owners must replace it immediately. Furthermore, if reflective tape is covered by another substance, such as mud or dirt, it will not be effective, and the vehicle will not be in adherence to conspicuity requirements. In addition to having to be properly visible, the reflexive tape must also be of the proper color. For example, the tape used at the lower rear of the trailer must be red and white. The same is true of the tape that is placed along the side of the trailer. The tape in the upper rear section must only be white. Commercial motor vehicle conspicuity requirements aim to, hopefully, prevent accidents whenever possible. When reflexive tape is not visible, avoidable accidents might occur.

    Product Certification

    Motorists are not permitted to use just any type of reflexive tape on their vehicles. Manufacturers must get their products certified according to the criteria set by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard. When products are certified, they will be given the following names, depending on their size and materials: DOT-C, DOT-C2, DOT-C3, and DOT-C4. Reflexive tape that does not have the necessary certifications might not be as effective and might degrade sooner. Regardless, if the materials used by a motorist are not certified and in accordance with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard regulations, they cannot be used. Certified products are made to fit the CMV conspicuity requirements exactly.

    What if a CMV Does Not Meet Conspicuity Requirements?

    Collisions might happen when drivers or owners of commercial motor vehicles fail to use reflexive tape that meets conspicuity requirements. Should you be injured in such an incident, our Upper Darby, PA truck accident lawyers can assess your case and help you move forward with a lawsuit for compensatory damages.

    When visibility is low, reflexive tape on semi trucks or other commercial motor vehicles can alert other motorists to the fact that such trucks are near. Without this safety measure in place, avoidable rear-end accidents might happen. The aftermath might be severe when passenger cars come in contact with semi trucks or other similarly large vehicles.

    Reflexive tape can also allow motorists to see commercial motor vehicle drivers acting negligently, giving them more of an opportunity to avoid such a situation. For example, suppose a passenger car is moving through an intersection at night when there is low visibility. Then, suppose that a CMV is moving through that same intersection, even though it is not permitted to, according to traffic regulations. If a semi truck does not have reflexive tape along its side, the passenger car driver might not see it, resulting in a severe crash.

    If a commercial motor vehicle does not meet conspicuity requirements, and an accident happens as a result of that failure, a victim may be able to sue for compensation. Whether you can immediately file a lawsuit will depend on your state and whether or not it has no-fault laws regarding auto accidents. Regardless, incidents involving CMVs often cause serious injury to victims, meaning filing a lawsuit is typically an option.

    Call Our Lawyers About Your Truck Accident Today

    Call (215) 709-6940 to set up a free analysis of your case from the York, PA truck accident lawyers at The Reiff Law Firm.

    Our Offices

    1500 John F. Kennedy Blvd #501
    Philadelphia, PA 19102
    Get Directions

    Get a Free Case Review

    "*" indicates required fields

    This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.