For owners of vehicle fleets, heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), or even large trailers, ECE104 is a vital regulation that must be known. The result of ECE104 is reduced chance of road accidents, and consequently saved lives, due to increased visibility of large vehicles during dark hours.

In this guide to ECE104, we explain what the regulation is, outline the main features of the regulation, and highlight compliant products.

What is ECE104?

Regulation ECE104 establishes the use of retroreflective safety markings on vehicles, specifically HGVs. It has been in place since 2011 and applies to vehicles across Europe.

ECE104 specifies the use of retroreflective markings to outline the rear and sides of HGVs to make them visible (for up to 1000 metres in low light conditions). It also outlines the standard for the tape materials used and the position of tape, as will be explained below.

The reflective tape used to conform with ECE104 is often referred to as contour or conspicuity tape and its purpose is to ensure the vehicle is visible even at dusk, dawn and night to prevent collisions which can be fatal. The use of retroreflective materials has been widely adopted in recent years to generally improve vehicle visibility and reduce accidents. Evidence suggests the increased visibility due to retroreflective vehicle safety markings is effective in reducing the chance of collisions.

View the official United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Regulation 104 (Uniform provisions Concerning the Approval of Retro-Reflective Markings for Vehicles of Category M, N and O).

Which vehicles does ECE104 apply to?

The regulation applies to vehicles over 7.5 tonnes and trailers over 3.5 tonnes operating in the UK. The conspicuity tape specified by ECE104 is suitable for a range of vehicles such as fleet vehicles, HGVs, school buses, farm implements, and slow-moving vehicles.

Other vehicle safety marking regulations, such as Chapter 8, apply according to vehicle purpose and the highways on which these vehicles operate. Find out more about Chapter 8 vehicle reflectives, best practice for Safety at Street Works, and much more with informative guides on our blog.

Vehicles safety markings for ECE104

As stipulated by ECE104, safety markings for the appliable vehicles must meet the requirements of the regulation, proven by the “E mark” carried by compliant retroreflective material. To achieve the E-mark, the tape must fulfil minimum requirements concerning reflectivity, colour, durability in weather conditions and more, involving testing at certified test institutes. Approved tapes for ECE104 must be certified to Class C of Regulation 104, the class specified for line and contour marking tapes.

The markings need to be between 50mm and 60mm wide. The regulation also depicts the colour and positioning of markings that must be used. Red tape should be used on the rear, yellow or white on the sides, and white tape is advisable for the lining on the front of the vehicle, according to the UK Department for Transport.

Contour or conspicuity tapes purchased should be up to standard, meeting requirements and with the E-mark, to ensure compliance.

Rear ECE104 vehicle safety markings

The contour line markings should create a box on the rear of vehicles exceeding 2,100mm in width. This applies to trucks (category N2 over 7.5 tonnes and N3) and trailers (category O3 and O4). If trailer shape or structure inhibits mandatory contour marking, line marking should be applied instead.

Contour markings should be as close to the edge of the vehicle as practically possible.

Side ECE104 vehicle safety markings

Partial contour markings (corner ticks) are mandatory for vehicles exceeding 6,000mm in length, however full contour marking may be applied. This again applies to vehicle categories N2 over 7.5 tonnes, N3, O3 and O4.

N3 vehicles exempt from ECE104 stipulated side and rear markings: chassis-cabs, incomplete vehicles, and tractors for semi-trailers.

Avery Dennison V6700B ECE104 approved vehicle tape

Avery Dennison V6700B is a metallised single layer reflective that is approved to ECE104 Class C. Constructed with solid cell design for superior durability and reflectivity, this conspicuity tape is one of the best available for long term, compliant vehicle safety markings. Available in red, white and yellow, as well as for rigid or flexible sided trucks.

Many retroreflective tapes use air cell construction, resulting in less effective reflectivity over time. As scratches and scrapes occur, individual cells fill with dirt and water, losing their reflectivity. Solid cell tape is far more durable and resistant to blunt force damage as well as dirt and water ingress, therefore retaining reflectivity for longer. Due to the engineering of solid cell tape for effectiveness in highway conditions, solid cell conspicuity tape is far more suited to ECE104 applications.

View this explanatory video to compare air vs solid celled construction conspicuity tape.

Learn more with Lakeside Group

Based in the South West but servicing businesses and vehicles around the UK, Lakeside are established suppliers of high-quality reflective vehicle safety markings and much more. Supplying a wide range of products, we can assist with ECE104 contour tape, as well as: traffic & safety reflective signage, street furniture, vehicle safety markings (including Chapter 8 chevrons), emergency services safety, and brand enhancement products. With over 30 years’ experience in the industry, our expert team are well versed in industry standards, regulations and accreditations, ensuring our customers get effective, compliant long-term solutions.

Get in touch to become ECE104 compliant!