Before there were emergency-vehicle lights, police officers and other first responders relied on decals and official-looking hats to help distinguish themselves from ordinary vehicles on the road. In the 1930s, law enforcement started placing red beacons atop their emergency vehicles. By the late 1940s, the light in those beacons could rotate 360 degrees.
Today, a police car is instantly recognizable by its red white and blue flashing lights. Ambulances are hard to miss with their red and white flashing lights, and fire trucks are also easy to distinguish with their red flashers.
The Unsung Heroes of Road Safety
Amber lighting serves two main functions on the road:
- Awareness: Drivers on the road who see amber lights on vehicles – flashing or otherwise – intuitively know to employ caution. Most of us are taught in the course of our driving training to associate amber lighting with road maintenance, construction tow trucks en route to the scene of an accident and other non-emergency vehicles. In this sense, amber lighting is a crucial signal to other drivers to help make them aware of a vehicle at work.
- Visibility: Amber lighting also makes vehicles more visible to other drivers, which helps improve the safety of everyone on the road. This extra protection is particularly important for non-emergency construction and/or maintenance vehicles working in dark areas, or on busy roadways.
It’s easy to take something as seemingly mundane as amber lights for granted. But at the end of the day, they have probably helped prevent more accidents – and in turn save more lives – than we will ever be able to tally.
Laws regarding the use of amber lights vary from state to state, and the only way to know for sure is to look into your jurisdiction’s traffic laws.
That said, the majority of states allow and even encourage the use of amber lights on any vehicles involved in roadside work or assistance. Some examples of the types of vehicles that are permitted, and sometimes even required by state laws, to use amber lights include:
- Construction vehicles: Pickup trucks, dump trucks, bulldozers, cranes, road rollers, etc.
- Utility vehicles: Bucket trucks used to fix power lines.
- Maintenance vehicles: Snowplow trucks, road gritters and other vehicles performing maintenance on roadways and public infrastructure.
- Auto-repair vehicles: Tow-trucks, AAA vehicles, etc.
- Security vehicles: Any automobile manned by a security guard on duty.
- Tractor-trailer: Most states have laws regarding the placement of light markers on trailers.
- Pilot vehicles: Pickup trucks and other automobiles escorting heavy loads.
- School buses: Flashing amber lights are used by school busses to indicate that they are slowing down to make a stop.
It’s worth noting that, even in states where amber lighting is not explicitly required for construction or maintenance, companies that use them in their fleets may improve their chances of winning city contracts by demonstrating that they take traffic safety seriously.
Different Types of Amber Lights
Amber lights come in many different designs that enable placement on vehicles of any size. Some of the most common fixtures include the following:
- Beacons: A single round light usually placed on top of a car; typically comes with multiple flashing patterns. They’re most commonly used in construction, security and pilot vehicles.
- Light bars: Commonly used on police cars, these elongated bars rest on the top of the vehicle and usually have adjustable flashing patterns. Light bars come in multiple sizes and can be used in different parts of the vehicle. For instance, dashboard light bars are narrow with bulbs facing out toward the street.
- Marker lights: Also known as clearance lights, these small, single-bulb lights are evenly spaced across the top of a vehicle, or on the sides of a truck. They’re especially common on trailers, as they indicate the full size of the load being pulled.
As for the actual bulbs, LED lights make the most sense since they shine brighter, last longer, are less straining on the eyes and use less energy.
Where to Buy Amber Lights
Not all amber lights are created equal. You’re better off buying them from a reputable vendor that specializes in vehicular lighting than getting them from Amazon or eBay. When it comes to traffic safety, quality is crucial. The last thing you want is for your lights to stop working at a critical moment, thereby risking the safety of your fleet and potentially violating local regulations.
At Day Wireless, our experts point you in the right direction. Get in touch with us today to learn more about the amber light requirements in your jurisdiction, or to purchase amber lighting for your fleets.