Choosing Emergency Lighting For Your Vehicle

Sometimes, emergency lighting is appropriate for your vehicle, and choosing the best lighting option can involve some research. Lights similar to police lights often work well, but there are color restrictions to consider in most states.  

Who Needs Emergency Lights

Fire, police, and ambulances often use red, blue, and a combination of these colors in the police lights or emergency lights on their vehicles. Tow trucks, snowplows, and other vehicles typically used on the side of the road or need to make drivers aware of their presence will also use light bars or warning lights that look and work similar to police lights but with amber lenses.

Any vehicle that needs to be visible to traffic can use amber lighting in most states, and some states allow other color variations. Still, it is vital to check before installing any lights on your vehicle. In some areas that have volunteer fire and EMS departments, emergency lights are also permitted on the vehicle to help clear traffic for volunteer responders headed to an emergency. There may be limitations on the size and placement of the lights, and often the department head or fire chief will need to give written permission for personal use.

Choosing The Best Lights

For vehicles like tow trucks or utility vehicles used along the side of the road, it is critical that you have lights that can be seen from both directions. Lights that are styled after police lights mounted on the roof of the vehicle often offer the best visibility. However, if there is equipment on the roof of the vehicle that blocks the lights, you may want to consider adding some smaller lights on the front and rear of the vehicle. 

Grill mounted lights or strobe lights added to the headlights and tail lights are often a good choice if your area allows it. Because the lights are so similar to police lights or those found on fire and EMS vehicles, it is essential to use lights that differentiate your vehicle to ensure that drivers coming along the road do not get confused.

Consider the brightness of the lighting as you look at options, and remember that the lights are intended to make you see. If they are too bright, they can make it difficult for drivers to see as they pass you and can be dangerous. If you are using a strobe light bar on the top of the vehicle with spotlights, make sure they can be turned on and off individually, so you are only shining them away from oncoming traffic. 

The mounting system can also be vital, so talk to the lighting dealer about installing the lights for you and getting the lights and the controls set up to work easily and effectively on your vehicle.