Governor's Traffic Safety Committee

Vehicle Equipment
(For Passenger Vehicles Only)

Many of New York States' Vehicle & Traffic Laws were enacted to promote traffic safety. This page covers vehicle equipment requirements and related law:

See Also:


Vehicle Equipment Related to Traffic Safety
Animated windshield wipers Headlights & Windshield Wipers -

You must use your headlights:

  • From 1/2 hour after sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise,
  • Whenever visibility ahead for 1,000 feet is not clear,
  • Whenever your windshield wipers are in use as a result of rain, sleet, snow, hail or other adverse weather.
NYS Certified Inspector inspecting car Inspection required with change of vehicle ownership -

In addition to the required annual safety and emissions inspection, any time a vehicle is registered by a new owner, it is required to have a New York State Vehicle Inspection.  This inspection will assure you that your vehicle is in a safe condition and is roadworthy.

Cracked windshield obstructing drivers' view. Glass -

All vehicles are required to be equipped with safety glass. Safety glass is defined as glass which has been manufactured or treated to prevent shattering or flying pieces when it is broken.

A vehicle may not be driven on the roadway with glass that is broken, fractured or discolored so the drivers' visibility is obstructed.

Star obstructing drivers' view

According to the Commissioner's Regulations covering inspections, your vehicle will not pass inspection if:

  • Any window is broken or has exposed sharp or jagged edges.
  • Your windshield has a crack more than eleven inches long, with any part of the crack in the windshield wiper path, or a "star" crack which is more than three inches in diameter.
Skid! Tires -

Making sure that your tires are in good (and legal) condition, inflated with proper air pressure, will provide your vehicle with adequate traction in most driving situations and may save you from having to change a flat tire in unsafe or inconvenient circumstances.

Tires must be in good condition. The NYS Motor Vehicle Inspection requirements for tires on passenger vehicles include:

Flat tire
  • Must conform to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.
  • Minimum tread depth of 2/32 of an inch at the most worn two adjacent tread grooves on the tire.
  • No cuts or breaks more than one inch long and deep enough to reach the body cords.
  • No bumps, bulges or knots.
  • No exposed ply or cord structure.
  • No tires with restricted usage markings.
    (NOTE:  These are inspection standards.  You can use a temporary or "donut" spare in an emergency, however they are built for very limited use and should be replaced as soon as possible.)

Commercial vehicles (medium and heavy duty) must meet more stringent requirements.

defective headlights at night Lights -

Every year when your vehicle has its annual NYS Motor Vehicle Inspection, all of the vehicles' lighting devices are checked for operation and condition. Each vehicle has minimum lighting requirements according to its' year of manufacture. The vehicle must meet these standards.

Any lens which is broken or missing so that white light is being emitted from a colored lens or any lens which has been repaired with material such as tape, plastic or cellophane will not pass inspection.

Headlights, both low beams and high beams are checked for operation. Only the low beam headlights are checked for aim within the correct specifications.

Animated Directional Signals

Directional Signals -

1953 and newer model vehicles are required to have two front facing amber directional signals, and two rear facing red or amber directional signals. These signals must be maintained and in working order at all times.

The vehicle will also be equipped with an indicator lamp, in sight of the driver, that functions when the directional signals are working.

Stop Lamp Brake Lights (Stop lamps) -

  • 1952 or older one red or amber rear facing stop lamp
  • 1953 - 1970, two red or amber rear facing stop lamps
  • 1971 and newer two red rear facing stop lamps
  • 1987 and newer - in addition to two red rear facing stop lamps, a high mounted stop lamp on the vertical center rear of the vehicle.
reverse indicator lights Back Up Lights -

1969 and newer vehicles are required to be equipped with at least one white rear facing lamp that activates when the vehicle is in reverse.

Emergency Flashers Hazard Warning Devices -

Four way flashers, which operate independently of the directional signals, are required on all 1966 and newer vehicles.

car with bumpers Bumpers -

All passenger vehicles must be equipped with front and rear bumpers to provide protection to the vehicles' lamps, body parts and vehicle occupants.

Failing Brakes!! Brakes -

Each year when your vehicle has its' annual NYS Motor Vehicle Inspection, the braking system is checked. However, if your brakes are making noises, fading or pulling in one direction when you stop, you should get them checked.

You should also check the brake fluid level in your vehicle from time to time. If you notice leakage or that the fluid needs to be filled often, you should get your brake system checked.

rearview and two side mirrors Mirrors -

Your vehicle is required to have rear view mirrors. These requirements are according to the age of the vehicle.

  • 1967 and older either an interior or left outside mirror
  • 1968 and newer must have a left outside mirror
  • 1970 and newer require an adjustable interior mirror unless they have a left and right exterior mirror.
  • If there is a permanent obstruction to the rear window, dual outside mirrors are required. (This includes all truck tractors.)

Mirrors must be:

  • securely mounted,
  • be capable of being adjusted so the driver has a full and clear view to the rear of the vehicle, and
  • mirrors cannot be cracked, broken or discolored.
Frosted Windshield Defrosters -

All vehicles sold in New York State are required to have windshield and rear window defrosters. This will enable you to have unobstructed vision through your windshield and rear window. Please allow your defrosters time to work before driving so you can see.