In North America, sidemarker lamps and retro-reflectors are required. The law initially required lights or retroreflectors on vehicles made after 1 January 1968. This was amended to require lights and retroreflectors on vehicles made after 1 January 1970. These side-facing devices make the vehicle’s presence, position and direction of travel clearly visible from oblique angles. The lights are wired so as to illuminate whenever the vehicles’ parking and taillamps are on, including when the headlamps are being used.
Front amber sidemarkers in North America may or may not be wired so as to flash in sync with the turn signals. Sidemarkers are permitted outside North America, but not required. If installed, they are required to be brighter and visible through a larger horizontal angle than US sidemarkers, they may not flash, and they must be amber at the front and rear unless the rear sidemarker is incorporated into the main rear lamp cluster, in which case it may be red or amber.
Some Japanese, European, British and US-brand vehicles have sidemarkers in Europe and other countries where they are not required.Japan’s recent accession to internationalised ECE Regulations has caused automakers to change the rear sidemarker colour from red to amber on their models so equipped in the Japanese market.