The Ultimate Guide to Emergency Vehicle Lights for Beginners


When it comes to driving, there are a wide variety of things you need to understand before hopping behind the wheel of a vehicle. One of the most important things any new driver will need to learn is the various emergency vehicles you could come into contact with while out on the road. Thankfully, it is easy to distinguish an emergency vehicle from another everyday traveler due to the use of Emergency Vehicle Lights. To understand a little more about how emergency lights will impact your travels, check out the following guide:

What Are Emergency Vehicle Lights?
All emergency personnel and organizations install emergency vehicle lights on all forms of transportation they use. These include: construction vehicles, emergency medical service vans or trucks (or EMS), fire trucks, law enforcement vehicles of multiple sizes, specialized utility repair vehicles, and more. Emergency lights are added to the standard lighting outfits of a vehicle and are used to help the driver notify other road users of unpredictable movement patterns, the need for priority, or to signal drivers to stop entirely. In most cases, the lights are a dedicated piece that is fixed to the vehicle as a beacon, light-bar, or grill module.

Does It Matter What Color Emergency Lights Are?
The color of emergency vehicle lights will vary depending on the type of vehicle being driven. Each color denotes a specific kind of vehicle and is regulated both at the state and local levels in the United States. However, in most cases, colors are used as follows:

Amber/Yellow – Amber/yellow lighting is used by a variety of different vehicles. These can include:

• Construction Vehicles
• Funeral Escorts
• Security Patrol Vehicles
• Snow Plows
• Tow trucks
• Utility Vehicles

• Blue – Blue is used in combination with other colors (specifically white, amber/yellow, and red) and is reserved only for EMT’s, firefighters, and law enforcement vehicles.

• Green – Green lighting is not an emergency lighting color you will see on a daily basis. Green is reserved for government, Homeland Security, and other private security agencies used to protect critical infrastructure and at-risk individuals in our government.

• Purple – Although not every state uses purple, when in use, purple notifies you of a coroner, funeral, or medical examiner’s vehicle.

• Red – Red lighting almost always notifies the public of some form of emergency vehicle (ex. fire truck), especially in cases where the lights are facing forward and strobing.

• White – White lighting has multiple uses. In most cases, it is used to simply increase visibility. For example, school buses will often use white flashing lights on the top of the school bus so you can see the vehicle better during lower levels of visibility (ex. fog). However, white is also combined with other colors to help improve visibility on light-bars (like on top of a police vehicle), although it is important to remember some states also restrict strobing white lighting to emergency vehicles. Therefore, it is essential to keep up with your individual state’s guidelines.

The most common emergency vehicles are EMS, fire, and police vehicles. Regardless of the type of vehicle (truck, car, boat, or motorcycle), certain colors are almost always associated with certain uses:

• Police – All law enforcement agencies use blue, red, or both colors along with either white or amber to increase visibility.

• EMS and Fire – EMS and fire vehicles use red lighting along with the optional color of either white or amber.

For more information on emergency vehicle lights, or for help navigating local regulations, talk to the professionals at Ultra Bright Lightz today by calling 888-562-5125.

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