Tennessee Emergency Vehicle Light State Statutes
Tennessee has specific laws regarding emergency vehicle lights, including which color lighting each vehicle can display, and which type of lights. The basic criteria for several types of emergency vehicles, together with definitions and the state laws for each of them are listed below.
In accordance with state statute 55-9-402, authorized law enforcement vehicles may display in combination steady-burning red, white, and blue lights. Additionally, they may also display combined flashing red, white, and blue police lights.
Blue flashing emergency vehicle lights or blue flashing emergency lights in combination with red flashing emergency lights may only be legally used by full-time uniformed local, city, county or state law enforcement officers. Exceptions by statute 5-9-414, however, include: commissioned members of the Tennessee Investigation Bureau, constables retaining powers and duties of law enforcement, auxiliary or reserve officers while in duty and driving department vehicles of the sheriff, and specially commissioned police officers employed by private colleges.
Fire Truck Lights
Fire trucks are authorized to use red and white lights as set out in Statute 55-9-402, which states that emergency vehicles used in firefighting, including ambulances, fire-fighting emergency vehicles owned and operated by forestry divisions, fire-fighting vehicles, rescue vehicles, private vehicles certified by regular or voluntary firefighters These vehicles can also display stable red lights.
Volunteer Fire Fighter Lights
Volunteer firefighter vehicles are permitted to use the same lights as fire trucks, as stated in section 55-9-402 above. This includes the use of red or white flashing lights, flashing red and white lights, or steady red lights. In addition, any emergency rescue vehicle owned, titled and operated by a state chartered rescue squad, a member of the Tennessee Association of Rescue Squads, private vehicles of regular or voluntary firefighters certified under the State Statute 55-9-201 and marked with letters of at least three inches (3″) in size and displayed on the left and right sides of the designated vehicle.
Ambulances may display flashing red or white lights in combination with flashing red and white lights in accordance with Statute 55-9-402. Any ambulance or vehicle equipped to provide emergency medical services that are properly licensed as required in the state and display the appropriate markings is also authorized to be lighted in one or more of the following ways: red or red/white visibar with public address system, red or red/white oscillating light type, and blinking red or red/white light, front or rear.
Tow Truck Lights
Recovery vehicles designed to tow a disabled vehicle, as per state statute 55-8-132, while in the performance of duties involving towing an abandoned, immobile, disabled or unattended motor vehicle, are authorized to display flashing, oscillating, strobe lights, a rotating system or any combination of white and amber lights. According to the statute, such authorized light / lights may be displayed at any location on the vehicle or equipment, other than within the vehicle’s headlight assembly or grill area, in the tail light or stoplight area, or factory-installed emergency flasher and backup light area, and may only be used when engaged in vehicle towing.
Construction Vehicle Lights
Construction vehicle lights, by state statute 55-9-402, are authorized to display any combination of white and amber lights, whether strobe, flashing or oscillating, and may only be used when working in a construction zone.
Utility Vehicle Lights
A road maintenance vehicle or utility vehicle or recovery vehicle may display flashing white or amber lights or any combination of flashing white and amber lights pursuant to Statute 55-9-402, which provides that, irrespective of any law to the contrary, nothing in this section prohibits road maintenance or utility vehicles or any other type of vehicle or equipment part of the vehicle.
‘ Utility ‘ is defined as ‘ any individual, municipality, county, metropolitan government, cooperative, board, district commission, or any agency created or permitted by public act, private act or general law to provide electricity, gas, water, wastewater services, telephone service, or any combination thereof, for sale to consumers in any given service area. ‘
Security Vehicle Lights
Vehicles owned or leased by licensed public or private security services (but not owned by personal security guard vehicles) that display flashing lights in any color other than red, white or blue, or in any combination of colors other than red or blue, provided that the flashing lights approved for security vehicles are not activated or are not regulated.
For more details on what lights are available to you, please call your State Highway Patrol office at: 615-741-3181
* Please note that these numbers are what we can currently find, and the numbers may have changed since this page.