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Illegal use of siren?

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

McHenry County, Illinois

Illegal use of siren?

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
April 28, 2010


Yesterday morning I met an oncoming lane-line painting truck on U.S. 14 east of Woodstock and near Centegra Hospital-Woodstock. It was painting the center line and was in the middle of the road.

The surprising part was the loud siren in use on the truck. When I saw the truck in the middle of the road, with a long line of traffic behind it, I immediately thought there was an approaching emergency vehicle - probably an ambulance enroute to the hospital.

Nope! The siren was on the privately-owned contractor's truck, in use presumably to warn traffic that the truck was in the middle of the road.

I have no doubt that the centerline painting operation is a hazardous one. The truck was straddling the centerline, with the paint sprayer between the truck's wheels. Other trucks operate with the sprayer off the left front of the truck, so that the truck stays in its lane.

As I understand the law, sirens can be used on designated emergency vehicles (police, fire, medical) while responding to emergencies. I've never heard of sirens being used on private-owned work trucks.

When I saw the truck in the middle of the road and traffic behind it, I pulled over to yield to what I thought was an oncoming ambulance or police car, so that it could pass the backed-up line of traffic and the painting truck.

I wondered by what State authority a siren would be permitted. Anyone know the statute?



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