Pennsylvania Emergency Vehicle Light State Statutes
Pennsylvania state requires emergency vehicles to use warning lights any time they’re on public roads. The size and color of lights to use depends on the type of emergency vehicle you’re driving. Below is a general description of what kind of emergency vehicle lights are appropriate, along with a connection for easy reference to the relevant ordinance.
What is an “Emergency Vehicle?”
Under Pennsylvania State Code §121.1, an emergency vehicle is defined as “any vehicle designed to provide emergency or special services,” including vehicles from the police and fire department, ambulances, military vehicles, any vehicle designed to carry blood or hazardous materials or any vehicle driven by the state medical examiner or coroner.
Under Pennsylvania statute §173.3 you can find regulations for policing vehicle lighting systems. Typically, police vehicles use red and blue lighting but they can also use white, clear, yellow or amber lighting. The lights will oscillate, flash or rotate. Police lighting systems can be mounted on top of a cab or on the vehicle’s roof, and the lighting system cannot be mounted from the highest point on the vehicle more than 18 inches away. The following types of mounting devices may be used:
- mounts with a magnetic base
- Self-leveling gimbal mounts
- Roof rack mounts for light bars
- Mounting (for flush-mounted flashing light systems only)
In addition, all rotating, flashing or oscillating lights must meet or exceed the chromacity coordinates, the standard color metric system J578D or the color specification for signal lighting September 19. For more information please refer to the statute text linked at the beginning of this section.
Fire truck lighting systems are covered under Statute 173.3(e)(1). The only colors allowed for use on fire trucks are:
Fire truck lighting systems need to meet the same standards as police vehicles. Private vehicles used as fire vehicles shall be required to mount their lighting systems as described in 75 Pa.C.S. § 4571.a. When using two or more lights, each must be of the same colour. In Pennsylvania, fire trucks are not allowed to use various-color lighting. For more information see §173(a)(5)(ii) of the Pennsylvania Statute. These laws also cover volunteer firefighters.
Ambulances The Pennsylvania statute §173.2 defines ambulance light standards. Under this statute, ambulances must have at least one red, white or clear rotating or flashing strobe lights, and at least two blue, white or clear rotating or flashing lights. These colors may also be used by ambulances with light bars, but the light bar that is chosen cannot have more than two emergency lights.
§173.4 requires that all wiring used in the lighting system shall be SAE-rated and shall have a sufficiently large gauge to be able to handle the electrical load released by the system. The ground cabling also has to be of equal gauge.
In addition, all ambulances must use an activation indicator. The indicator must automatically switch on whenever the vehicle’s lighting system is activated. Pursuant to § 173.6, those who violate this law may be penalised. Penalties could include penalties imposed under 75 Pa.C.S. § 6502.b.
Building Trucks Building truck lighting is covered by §173(a)(5)(ii), the same as fire trucks. However, unlike fire trucks, construction vehicles will have to use amber or yellow light and any light bars installed will have to be amber or yellow in colour. In addition, construction vehicles, like ambulances, will need a light activation indicator that switches on automatically when the lighting system is engaged.
For more information on what lights are available to you, please call your State Highway Patrol office at: 717-783-5599
*Please note that these numbers are what we can currently find, and the numbers may have changed since this listing.