• 11% of UK vehicles missing one or more brake lights
    • 3.7million vehicles un-roadworthy by VOSA standards
    • Missing brake light numbers have increased 68% since 2010
    • 3% of UK vehicles missing one or more headlights
    • 8% of brake light failures on commercial vehicles

    More than 11% of UK vehicles are missing one or more brake lights, significantly increasing the risk of accidents with other road users and classifying them ‘un-roadworthy’ by VOSA standards. Worryingly, the number of missing brake lights has also increased 68% since 2010, according to new research by

    The study, conducted by the online used car retailer, shows one in nine, or around 3.7million of the 34 million licensed vehicles on UK roads[i], would fail the MOT test because of non-functioning brake lights. Drivers would also be eligible for a £60 fine and penalty points.

    Data was gathered during the busy rush hour periods and highlights a significant increase in the number of light failures – up 68% from one in 15 vehicles in 2010, in the case of brake lights. The survey also included commercial vehicles, which made up eight percent of total brake light failures. Four percent of all the vehicles spotted with missing brake lights had no bulbs working at all.

    The research also found that just over one million vehicles (3%) had at least one non-functioning headlight, reducing both the driver’s view of the road and the vehicle visibility to other road users. Despite headlight failure being a more obvious fault to identify, the results show many UK drivers are not making regular checks or solving the fault quickly enough.

    Tesco Cars is urging motorists as a matter of safety, to regularly check both front and rear lights to ensure their vehicles are as visible as possible.

    Rebecca Ryan, Marketing Manager for Tesco Cars commented; ‘Our research demonstrates an alarming number of cars are missing important safety features – it’s a major concern for road safety and a potentially fatal fault in low light conditions. We urge solo-commuter drivers to regularly check their lights are clean and functional, perhaps with the help of a colleague or family member. ‘Be seen be safe’ applies directly in this situation. With commercial vehicles there really is no excuse for not having all brake lights 100% functional. They should be checked before every trip as a matter of course.’

    In 2010, around 15% of vehicles failed the MOT test due to light problems, according to the Vehicle Operating Standards Authority (VOSA).[ii]

    Faulty brake lights also fall under the ‘CU10’ traffic offence code, for which police can issue up to three penalty points and fines of up to £60.

    % of total brake light failures % of total headlamp failures
    One brake/head light missing 96% 91%
    All brake/head lights missing 4% 9%
    Cars 91% 83%
    Commercial Vehicles 8% 17%
    Taxis 1% 0%

    In 2010, 174 accidents were attributed directly to defective lights or indicators with 32 of those classed as ‘serious’ or ‘fatal’.[iii] A further 364 accidents were caused by drivers not displaying lights at night or in poor visibility. Around 26,000 accidents a year – including 195 fatalities – are caused by misjudging another person’s speed, often a result of failing to spot another driver slowing down rapidly.