Texas Emergency Vehicle Light State Statutes

Law enforcement officers, paramedics and rescue workers need as clear a path as possible to respond quickly to accidents that present risks to other people’s health or safety. Many other types of vehicles are used to repair, maintain, and build roads and utility lines; and to protect offices, shops, and other private properties.

Texas emergency light vehicle regulations clarify can vehicles can and must have specific types of warning devices. With these rules, specific types of public service and other workers may warn others about their approach or activities. Restrictions on who can use them protect the public from criminals posing as law enforcement officers, rescue workers or security personnel.

Texas Transportation Code section 547.305 defines the types of vehicles which may have emergency or warning lights. Such vehicles include “approved emergency vehicles” as defined in Section 541.201 of the Texas Transportation Code, tow trucks, and vehicles used in road and utility construction and maintenance. Vehicles working in private security could also have flashing lights on September 1, 2018.

Police Lights

Police department cars, sheriff’s office, Texas Highway Patrol, public and private colleges and universities with police officers, and Texas Public Safety Department may use red, white, and blue combination lights including light bars. (Texas Code of Transport, Section 547.305(c).

Section 541.201(13-A) of the Texas Transportation Code treats private vehicles of police officers, sheriffs and their deputies, campus police officers, Texas Rangers, constables and a host of other ‘ peace officers ‘ as defined in Section 2.12 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure as ‘ police vehicles. ‘ These ‘ peace officers ‘ include but are not limited to: investigators working in the offices of police officers.

Nevertheless, “peace officers” private vehicles must comply with toll road laws by paying the tolls, unless the vehicles are classified as vehicles used by law enforcement. (Texas Transportation Code Section 541.201(13-A).)

Fire Truck Lights

Texas Transportation Section Code 541.201(1)(A) defines fire department vehicles as ‘ authorized emergency vehicles. ‘ This statute permits the use of red lights by Texas fire trucks and ambulances. Like, the police should have two red lights on the front of their rigs and two red lights on the back of the vehicles.

Volunteer Firefighter Lights

Under Section 547.702(d) of the Texas Transportation Code, private cars or volunteer firefighter trucks have two options for displaying emergency lights: two front and two rear red lights that flash alternately. The front and back lights have to be level-mounted with each other and clear up to 500 feet away.
A red light briefly placed on the vehicle’s windshield. Under regular daylight the lights must be seen by cars or others as far as 500 feet away.
The volunteer firefighter must be responding to a fire or other medical emergency to trigger the lights from a private vehicle. Such accidents may include collisions, other injuries, or a person suffering from a heart attack, stroke or otherwise falling ill and needing emergency care.

Ambulance and emergency vehicle lights

Under Section 541.201(1)(B) of the Texas Transportation Code, ambulances used by government agencies or private ambulance companies that display and buy emergency vehicle lights.

“Emergency medical services vehicles” also have the right to have emergency lights under section 541.201(1)(C) of the Texas Transportation Code. Vehicles that provide basic or advanced life support, operate as mobile intensive care units, or other “specialized” emergency vehicles fall within this group. (Texas Health and Safety Code Section 773(12)) Other medical vehicles that qualify as approved emergency vehicles under the Texas Transportation Code Section 541.201(1) shall include:

  • industrial ambulances or emergency vehicles
  • Vehicles that carry blood, organs, medications or drugs to blood or tissue banks on an emergency basis.

Tow Truck Lights

Under Texas Transportation Code Section 547.305(d)(4), tow trucks may display alternating flashing lights when towing disabled vehicles along a highway or other roadway, or when directed to remove a vehicle involved in a crash by a highway patrol troop, police officer, Texas Ranger, sheriff’s deputy or other law enforcement official.

According to Section 547.305(d)(5) of the Texas Transportation Code, tow trucks with mounted bars are allowed if they fully comply with the stop lamps and turn signals specifications.

Construction and Road Maintenance

Vehicle Lights Amber lighting requirements on vehicles for construction and road maintenance illustrate the purposes of allowing motorists and others to distinguish between these classes of vehicles and emergency ones. The latter, with their red, white, and blue lights, warn about medical, criminal, or other emergencies that approach people. With amber lights, vehicles in the former category tell others about work being done to improve roads or to keep them safe.

Section 547.001(2-b) of the Texas Transportation Code includes vehicles removing snow from roads, stretching roads, sweeping and spraying roads and testing them for ability to cause skidding. Vehicles that excavate, grade, and roll roads and highways to apply asphalt and build roads come under the umbrella of “highway maintenance vehicles.” Construction and road maintenance vehicles located on the roads, but not in work areas, should have blue on the driver’s side and amber on the passenger’s.

Utility Vehicle Lights

Vehicles that build or work on public utilities such as electricity, water and natural gas, are considered service vehicles under Section 547.001(6-a) of the Texas Transportation Code. These vehicles must comply with the same lighting standards as other vehicles for road or traffic maintenance.

Escort Vehicle Lights

The lights for escort flag vehicles are regulated by Section 623.099 of the Texas Transportation Code. These cars or trucks accompanied manufactured homes larger than 16 feet in width, up to 18 feet. This segment includes escort vehicles of this width only for manufactured homes.

According to Section 623.099(c)(1), escort vehicles must either have two flashing amber lights or one beacon of at least eight inches in diameter. The lights must be mounted on top of the vehicles and have visibility from all sides.

Private Security Vehicle Lights

Section 547.305 of the Texas Transportation Code creates a new class of vehicles that can display lights effective September 1, 2018. This group consists of safety patrol vehicles, which are identified as vehicles used by a guard company or security officer for security services. Security patrol vehicles (Texas Transportation Code Section 547.305(f)) may have green, amber or white lights only.

“Guard companies” are licensed under the Texas Occupations Code, Chapter 1702. Section 1702.108 defines these entities as those providing private guards, patrol persons or those serving as “watchmen.” Their functions include trespass prevention, fire, larceny, unauthorized entries and personal protection of individuals. Guard companies employees may only exercise restricted traffic control to the degree that it protects the entrance to and from the property being guarded.

To be considered a security officer means offering security for the security department of a company or as part of the security services provider company. Such individuals must hold responsibilities as a guard, watchman count patrolman, guard armored cars or careers, or respond to alarm systems signaling unauthorized people’s entry.

Texas allows a number of police, rescue, utility and road workers to have warning lights vehicles. Such lights alert us of the need to remain quiet so that the staff who use or are with them can effectively and safely perform their duties.

For more information on what lights are available to you, please call your State Highway Patrol office at: 512-506-2847

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