UK DVSA U-Turn on using LED Headlight Bulbs

The UK's DVSA have reversed their decision to outlaw LED headlight bulbs fitted to motorcycles. In a special notice they have now advised MOT testers that such fitments should be allowed and should not be an MOT failure. This will apply to all motorcycles irrespective of age and is a welcome development.

Originally section 4.1.4 of the inspection manual for both motorcycles and cars stated that existing halogen headlamp units should not be 'converted' to be used with HID or LED bulbs (by 'converted' they meant even fitting a direct replacement bulb) and that if it had then it would be a failure. Obviously a lot of motorcycle and car owners were upset having spent a lot of money on LED or HID conversions - and rightly so because the law should never be applied retrospectively (i.e. making something done in the past illegal in the past).

In another climb-down the DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) have issued a special notice which reverses a lot of that decision from the 22nd March. Now, as long as the headlamp beam pattern is correct, motorcycles (class 1 and class 2 vehicles) can continue to have LED and HID conversions and any existing ones will be allowed.

However cars and some other vehicles (classes 3 to 5 and 7) will only be allowed to have LED or HID conversions if they were first used before 1st April 1986. This is fair enough because cars have two headlights rather than one and from 1986 the headlight technology had been much improved meaning you didn't have to strain your eyes at night. Conversely motorcycles and older cars continue to benefit from updates in technology to provide them with as much forward illumination as possible - though with one headlight having to cover the whole road they will never be as bright as two headlights each only covering half the road (by a factor of four).