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What The Colors Of Vehicle Emergency Lights Mean

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Emergency Services Vehicles

What The Colors Of Vehicle Emergency Lights Mean

Paul Wise
27 January 2009


Those who are driving at night may be used to seeing the dozens of indicator lights which are installed in huge delivery trucks. These indicator lights are installed on the body of both large and small vehicles so that it will be easier for them to be spotted by other drivers using the road.

This is especially important for huge trucks which may cause harm to other drivers if they are out and about on the road without their indicator lights flashing. Now, when it comes to vehicles which are responding to different emergencies, what types of lights are typically used?

You may have seen that indicator lights are usually colored amber, red and blue - but do the same colors apply to emergency lights? Read on to find out more about emergency lights and what the different colors mean.

A Glimpse at the Meaning of the Most Common Colors of Emergency Lights

Remember that emergency lights are only used by law enforcers, fire fighters, volunteer organizations which respond to fires and medical emergencies, and utility vehicles. As such, the use of such emergency lights is often regulated.

Also, depending on the country where the emergency lights are being used, the different colors would denote a particular emergency that is being responded to.

For example, red is the most common hue of emergency lights which is used to denote a real emergency. When you see a police car flashing a red light with a combination of blazing siren, this usually means that they are chasing after a criminal or doing some other type of emergency police work.

Blue lights are also used by law enforcers. A typical example of blue lights is the red-and-blue bar lights which are mounted on top of police cars in the US. Tow trucks and volunteer firefighters also use blue emergency lights.

Amber or yellow lights denote a vehicle which is running on the road at a slower pace than usual. Finally, there are the lesser known colors of emergency lights like purple - which are used for funeral vehicles. White flashing lights are used in school buses in some states.

A Final Word about Colored Emergency Lights

When you talk about emergency lights, there are three basic options that you can choose from: strobe, LED or rotating lights. Out of these three, LED or light emitting diode lights are the most practical to use because of their long-lasting properties. Not only are LED lights more long lasting than typical rotating bulbs, for example. LED emergency lights also consume less power so they will not use up much of the charge on the vehicle's battery.

Finally, LED lights have a more 'focused' light property - which simply means that the light that they produce is purer in color and quality.

When purchasing emergency LED lights for emergency vehicles, make sure to always go for cost-effective, reliable and high-quality LED lights which will last through many emergency situations.


I, Paul Wise have written this article to assist drivers in better understanding the meaning behind different types of Vehicle Emergency Lights colors. I do work with a volunteer ambulance service and feel it is important for drivers to know this information. I also have emergency lights, LED Light Bars to be exact, on my vehicle and purchased them at Prestige Emergency Lights, I found them to have excellent pricing and quality products.



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