Can civilians use emergency and warning lights? (2023)

In many states, the different colors of lights used by emergency services, police, and other first responders can vary from state to state. Where there can be a red light for an ambulance in a state, it can be the primary onepolice lightcolor in a different condition.Most people don't realize that each state regulates the appropriate colorsemergency lightsallowed on all vehicles. These laws include emergency police, fire and rescue services, ambulances and other first responder vehicles, as well as taxis, buses, and both commercial and non-commercial road traffic.

Flashing emergency lights are most commonly seen on police cars, ambulances, and fire engines. These vehicles, when moving in response to an emergency situation, must be allowed to drive faster than the other cars on the road. This is ensured by the flashing of the vehicles' emergency lights and the sirens. First responders who work full-time with departments and service vehicles usually do not think long about the legality of their service vehicle lighting. However, there is a group of first responders who continue to question whether they fall within the scope of the law. Volunteer firefighters, dive crews, physicians, district coroners, volunteer emergency responders, and many businesses that use emergency vehicles in their daily activities often wonder if they can use emergency lights and sirens on their vehicles. There are enormous legalities associated with the use of this type of equipment, and laws vary from state to state. Here we go over basic guidelines associated with this type of gear and who can use it.

Anyone can buy an emergency light - but not everyone can use it

As an emergency vehicle lighting dealer, we are often faced with questions about the legality of our sales. Customers are asking whether the lights and sirens we are promoting can be used in passenger cars, and this is where selling emergency vehicle lights gets complicated. Our products are available to the general public. However, not everyone on public roads can operate an emergency light in their car. This means you can buy a light of any color from us, but state law determines whether or not you can use it on public roads in the United States. Every state in the United States has written policies about who may and may not use emergency vehicle lights. Some of the laws are more lax than others, but some even have restrictions on where lights can be placed on a vehicle. Because state laws vary widely from state to state, we cannot tell a customer whether equipment they intend to purchase may be used on the roads in their area. Instead, it is the responsibility of the buyer, driver, and installer to ensure that the lights they intend to purchase for their vehicle are legal in the state in which they intend to operate it. To ensure customers understand the legal requirements for emergency vehicle lighting, we encourage anyone considering purchasing lights from our online store to familiarize themselves with their state's laws before making a purchase.

Lights for off-road and private use are allowed

An example of when warning lights may be purchased for civilian use and used on privately owned vehicles is when the equipment is to be used for off-road and personal use. Farmers and private security companies are one of the largest markets for this type of sale. Farmers may want to add it to their ATVs, tractors, and farm transporthazard lightsfor use on your property. Security agencies patrolling private properties such as corporate parking lots, amusement parks, private recreation properties, and shopping malls can equip their vehicles with warning lights. When these types of customers buy warning lights, the purpose of the purchase is to help monitor private property. Because most state laws apply only to on-road use, the laws do not prevent drivers from using emergency lighting on private property.

Understand the optional colors of emergency vehicle lighting

Everyone recognizes red, blue, and white lights on the road, but it's important to note that these colors aren't the only colors allowed on the road in some states. Green, amber/amber, and violet lights are also recognized emergency vehicle light colors in many states.

Green lights are in many places considered courtesy lights, meaning that the vehicle carrying this emergency vehicle light is requesting the right of way rather than demanding it. Some states allow volunteer firefighters to use green lights instead of the traditional red and white associated with fire departments across the United States. When a volunteer firefighter uses a green light on their personal vehicle, the law in that state considers the device a courtesy light. Because the device is not recognized as an emergency light, the Move Over laws may not apply to the situation in this state.

All white emergency vehicle lights are not a common sight on the road and are not typically operated by emergency vehicle drivers. If instead you see all-white emergency lights on the road, it's probably a warning vehicle. Caution vehicles are driven by utilities, construction companies, storm chasers, and a few others. Since these vehicles are not emergency vehicles, these drivers cannot demand the right of way from other drivers and must obey all traffic laws.

Amber warning lights are the most permissive warning light color in the United States. This means that most states allow a variety of vehicles to operate amber warning lights. State laws still determine when this type of lighting may be used. For example, in Ohio, a construction vehicle or utility vehicle may use amber lights when parked curbside, but no hazard lights when the vehicle is in motion.

Purple warning lights are very rarely seen on the road today, and quite a fewemergency vehicle lightRetailers don't even sell this type of gear because it's not popular. In states that allow violet lights to be used on automobiles, it is usually restricted to use by funeral procession vehicles.

Understand legal requirements and use of flash

Many people want to make something unique out of their existing vehicle. One way to do this is to change the lighting. However, not everyone can fit their vehicle with flash tube kits and run them on the road.
Many of the details regarding the legality of aftermarket flash lights on the highway vary from state to state. However, there are some common themes regarding this issue that are pretty universal. These are regulations that dictate both the brightness and positioning of flashlights and the color they can be. If your vehicle is found to be in violation of the regulations, significant fines or other penalties are the likely result.

First and foremost, red or blue emergency strobe lights are by and large not permitted.There are some exceptions, but the general spirit of the law is that civilian vehicles should not have the same characteristics as police vehicles.

Another general rule is that regardless of color, there is an upper limit to brightnessLED flash lightsmay be. Usually the limit is set at roughly the equivalent of the illuminance of 300 candles, but this is another parameter that may vary somewhat depending on location. The general idea here is that civilians are allowed to have strobe lights, but that they should not be bright enough to compete with other vital lighting components on the vehicle. In other words, you can't have one as bright as, say, your brake lights.

A brief overview of the Florida Light State emergency vehicle statutes

Extreme tactical dynamicsis located in Jupiter, Florida. As a Florida company, we are intimately familiar with the laws regarding the use of emergency lighting in our borders. Below is a brief overview of Florida state law regarding use of the types of equipment we sell.

Florida laws have regulations on the different colors of lights permitted on all vehicles. Only specially marked vehicles may have red or blue lights visible from the front of the vehicle.

While rear-facing lights such as brake lights must be red, only officially registered vehicles are allowed to display red lights visible from the front. In Florida, fire, police, ambulance, Department of Environment, Department of Transportation, Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs, and Department of Justice vehicles are permitted to use emergency lighting in the event of an emergency.

In emergencies, the police and other authorized vehicles can use emergency lighting. In all other circumstances, only police vehicles are allowed to display blue lights. Florida statutes clearly prohibit other vehicles from installing blue lighting anywhere on the vehicle. This ensures easy detection of police vehicles using flashing lights while on duty.

It's important that everyone knows yoursgovernment regulationsabout light colors on automobiles. Not only do the rules govern what type of equipment you are allowed to attach to your vehicle, it is also important that you are able to avoid emergency police or fire and rescue workers while they are on the way to a critical situation. Knowing what the colors mean can help you avoid dangerous situations as well as fines and other penalties.

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