Strobe Lights: Can You Use Them For Private Vehicles?

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People immediately think of emergency vehicles when they see flashing lights, whether blue or red or a mixture. The color combination varies from state to state because the state regulates the color used for emergency vehicle lights. In addition to regulating emergency vehicles, the state is also in control of colors on commercial and non-commercial street vehicles. Strobe lights help other drivers know to move over or to take caution, such as in the presence of trash or utility trucks. So how do people who volunteer with emergency services or operate vehicles which stop frequently use flashing lights? While the laws vary from state to state, there are general guidelines to make sure emergency vehicle lights are not abused.

Purchasing an Emergency Vehicle Light is Simple – Usage is Not

The key thing to know is while anyone can purchase an emergency light bar, not just anyone can use it. Depending on where you live, the laws regarding light bar usage can be extremely strict. Therefore, before you purchase emergency lights for your vehicle, you will want to know your local laws.

Strobe Light Laws for Volunteer First Responders

One of the groups of civilians allowed to use emergency vehicle lights is volunteer first responders. A few examples include EMS, firefighters, or physicians. While the laws do vary, many times if you are responding to a call, you can use a vehicle strobe light.

Strobe Light Laws for Private Companies

Some private companies offer services that require flashing lights on their vehicles to bring attention to their presence. A few examples include parking lot security officers, park service workers, or railroad employees. Often, they use the same colors as police cars, so people can become confused. This does not mean that it is illegal; it just means that people will be overly cautious when they see the lights. Security companies often like to patrol parking lots, recreational sites, malls, or amusement parks with cars that resemble police vehicles to deter criminal activity.

Strobe Light Laws for Private Use

The harder determination to make when you are looking at strobe lights for your vehicle is for private use. This is when you are looking at using a vehicle on private land for private purposes, whether it is private property or off-road. Farmers, for example, use warning lights. Many desire lights for their tractors or ATVs, and for the most part, laws do not prevent private land use.

Understanding the Color Options for Emergency Vehicle Lights

Red and blue are the two most common colors for emergency strobe lights. However, four other colors are appropriate vehicle strobe light colors.

Green – Flashing green lights are often used by volunteer firefighters who are simply asking to be given the right of way. These are courtesy lights, and differ from the emergency red and white colors you see on firetrucks. It is important to note that flashing green lights often do not qualify for the Move Over law in most states.

White – A straight flashing white strobe light is not a common sight on emergency vehicles. But utility and construction companies use it. It is also on vehicles that are chasing storms or news vehicles. Due to these vehicles not being used for emergencies, it is vital that drivers follow traffic laws even when they use the strobe lights.

Amber – This color is sometimes called “yellow” by civilians, but it is sold as amber in stores. Yellow is associated with warning or caution, so it is often used by construction crews or parked cars. Numerous laws regulate the usage of amber strobe lights. One may not have the lights flashing while the vehicle is moving.

Purple – One of the rarest colors of strobe lights is purple. It is so rare that it can be difficult to purchase emergency vehicle lights in this color. The one time you can generally see this type of flashing vehicle light is in funeral processions.

If you are considering buying vehicle strobe lights, you will need to decide what color of light you desire. Thankfully, Amazon provides people the ability to search and find the perfect purchase for their lifestyle and desires.

Vehicle Strobe Lights Bring Awareness to Road Safety

One of the main reasons to install emergency vehicle lights on your car is to help bring attention to the vehicle on the road. Other drivers immediately identify strobe lights and will slow down or move over, regardless of what color they are. This adds to road safety because people can see flashing lights from quite a distance. People will know from a distance to be aware of impending road work, accidents, or anything else that could require a reduction in speed.

Reflective Vests Add to Road Safety

Road safety is so important that you should consider owning and wearing a safety vest. High visibility vests are made with a mesh material and feature strips of tape around the mid-section that reflect when lights shine on them. They are generally green, yellow, pink, or orange and are ideal in dark environments. If you are operating a bus, truck, or getting out of your vehicle in the dark, you should be wearing one. You can find them in dark colors as well if you are only out during the day.

Understanding Strobe Light Usage Laws

It is common for a person to want to take something they purchase and make it more unique, which is common with vehicles. Some people put lift kits on their cars or trucks, while others prefer to change the look of a vehicle with lighting. One rule that is found in almost every state is where the lights are allowed to be placed and how bright they can be. It will vary from state to state, but they almost all have regulations that carry heavy penalties for infractions.

Firstly, colors that are illegal for civilians to use regardless of the size of the light or brightness are blue and red. These are the colors police and emergency vehicles use. Secondly, regardless of what color your strobe lights are, they cannot be brighter than the standard lights on your car. What this means is you cannot have any flashing lights that shine brighter than your headlights, tail lights, or even your brakes. Generally, the standard is equivalent to the light 300 candles provide.

Using Florida Emergency Vehicle Light Laws as a Basis

Florida is a state that has specific strobe light laws for civilian use, and these can be a good basis for determining how to use flashing lights on your own vehicle. As stated, the usage of blue or red lights is not allowed on any vehicle that is not part of the fire department, ambulance service, police department, or any governmental agency. Also, the red lights must be only visible from the front of the car, so it cannot be confused with the brake light system. Strobe lights are a desired addition to many cars because they bring attention to your vehicle, but you want to make sure not to create a dangerous situation where you might be confused with emergency personnel.

Making an Informed Decision About Vehicle Strobe Lights

Now you know you cannot purchase strobe lights that are red or blue, but other colors are available. If you are just wanting an aesthetic change to your vehicle, any strobe light installation is allowed as long as you do not use the lights on any road designed for public use. This means if you are a farmer and want to use strobe lights while driving your fields, that is fine. It is also acceptable to have flashing lights on your car if you are in auto shows or parades. When purchasing a strobe light for your car, you will get to choose patterns of flashes, the size of the lights, and the colors. In addition, you will want to think about where you want to mount them. There are grill lights, reverse lights, trunk light bars, or even internal dash lights. No matter what, it is vital that you look into the laws in your area to find out what you can have on your vehicle while driving and make sure you follow those regulations, even if you plan on commercially using your car.

Stringer Guide Team

Stringers Guide is your go-to source for Stringers, photojournalists, videographers and news freelancers. We guide beginners and experienced freelancers through great article content and newsgathering tips.

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