New York

New York Emergency Vehicle Light State Statutes

Emergency vehicles view and use multiple colored emergency vehicle lighting systems. We may be used in conjunction or individually. Emergency lights on vehicles in New York state may be red, white, blue, green, or amber. Emergency vehicle lights can flash or display as a solid colour.

The New York State Statute VAT-1-101 defines an emergency vehicle in the State of New York as any vehicle in one of the following categories:

  • Police department vehicles
  • Fire department vehicles
  • Volunteer fire vehicles
  • Ambulance service vehicles and county emergency medical service vehicles
  • Volunteer ambulance service vehicles
  • Blood delivery vehicles

When emergency vehicles are displayed Vehicles that respond to emergencies are not always required to use an audible siren or horn for a Police Department, Sheriff Department or the New York State Troopers.

An emergency vehicle that displays emergency lights and sirens is not automatically granted a right-of-way. These devices are used to alert motorists and pedestrians that an emergency response involves vehicles and that those vehicles are requesting the right-of-way. Following an emergency vehicle which shows flashing lights at a distance less than two hundred feet is unlawful. Drivers are not allowed to park or drive within one block or a thousand feet of a parked emergency vehicle while their flashing lights are on. The driver of the emergency vehicle has a duty to drive with reasonable care when responding to emergency calls in order to respect the safety of all other people using the roadway.

Police Department Vehicles

Police Department, Sheriff Department, and New York State Trooper vehicles use red, white, and/or blue police lights according to the VAT-375.41.2 of the New York State Statute. Whether flashing or solid, red and white lights mean all traffic has to be stopped or cautioned when approaching them. Blue lights provide emphasis and bring greater attention to the fact that there is actually an emergency situation involving a police vehicle. The blue lights are only to be rear facing and not visible from the car front.

Fire Department Vehicles

New York Fire Department vehicles and fire truck lights are governed by the same statute that includes, with one exception, Police Department vehicles. Under Fire Department Vehicles-State Statute VAT-375.41.2 the use of blue lights is not permitted.

Volunteer Fire Fighter

Private Vehicles Any vehicle owned and operated by a volunteer fire fighter in New York State may display one blue light on its vehicle or the vehicle of any member of the fire fighter family, provided that the family member resides in the same household as the fire fighter. The blue light can be appended to the vehicle’s interior or it can be attached to the vehicle’s trunk or rear tail gate. This blue light can only be used when an emergency operation is undertaken by the volunteer fire fighter. The fire chief must grant a permit authorizing the installation and use of the blue lights for responding to emergency fire scenes. This authorisation may also be withdrawn by the fire chief. Vehicle drivers with blue lights may not use a siren or any other hearing aid. See State Statute VAT-375.41.4 for more information

Ambulances-State Statute 375.41.2

Ambulances and County Emergency Medical Service Vehicles in New York State are allowed to use only red and white warning lights while responding to State Statute 375.41.2 Emergency Calls.

Volunteer Ambulance Service

There are volunteer ambulance services in rural parts of New York state. These services are owned and operated by non-profit organizations in areas where full-time or county emergency medical services cannot reach the medical emergency scene within a reasonable time frame and are governed by Volunteer Ambulance Service — State Statute375.41.5. Ambulance volunteers can affix one green light to their vehicle. Placement and utilization guidelines for these green lights are the same as the guidelines for volunteer fire fighters. The non-profit ambulance service’s chief officer must provide written authorization to all workers allowed to use the green light. Vehicle drivers with green lights may not use a siren or any other hearing aid.

Blood Delivery Vehicles

Blood Delivery Vehicles are Authorized Emergency Services Vehicles In New York, the delivery of blood to the community is considered an emergency service. As such they are allowed to use red and white emergency lights while blood is being processed.

Other Vehicles That Use Warning Lights

The New York Department of Motor Vehicles controls other vehicles that use Warning Lights Tow trucks, construction vehicles and utility vehicles. Both tow trucks will show one or more oscillating, blinking, revolving, or spinning lights of amber colour. These lights are intended to alert drivers and pedestrians about such vehicles being pose. We do not allow those vehicle drivers to violate any traffic regulations. A gas company, an electric company or a sanitation department run by a city or county can operate utility vehicles. Trucks for snow removal will also come with flashing amber lights.

Pilot and Escort Vehicles in New York

Pilot vehicles use amber warning light bars to escort trucks carrying over loads of size must. The specifications for these lights are very stringent and strictly enforced after vehicles with extra long or extra large loads present a potentially serious safety hazard. The light bar should be at least 43 inches long but not more than 52 inches long. The light bar has to be mounted perpendicular to the vehicle length. There must be at least 4 blinking or strobe lights, visible from a distance of 1000 feet. At least 2 of the lights have to blink at 95 flashes per minute. The other two require at least 150 flashes per minute.

Shopping mall parking lots are often covered by vehicles that provide protection. These may be vehicles of a passenger car or type of golf cart. Such vehicles use amber lights for illumination at the public shopping centres. Private malls, hotels, clusters of apartments and so on often employ private security services. Their vehicles may use a combination of amber or white lights or both.

For more details on what lights are available to you, please call your State Highway Patrol office at: 518-457-5330

* Please note that these numbers are what we can currently find, and the numbers may have changed since this page.