Law enforcement officers, firefighters, and rescue workers need as clear as possible paths to promptly respond to incidents that pose threats to the health or safety of others. Numerous other types of vehicles are used for the repair, maintenance, and construction of roads and utility lines; and for protection of offices, stores, and other privately-owned facilities.
Texas emergency vehicle light laws determine which vehicles can and must have particular types of warning devices. With these laws, particular types of public service and other workers can warn others of their approach or activities. Restrictions on who can use them protect the public from criminals posing as law enforcement, rescue, or security workers.
Section 547.305 of the Texas Transportation Code lists the types of vehicles that can have emergency or warning lights. These vehicles include “authorized emergency vehicles” as defined by Texas Transportation Code Section 541.201, tow trucks and vehicles used in construction and maintenance of roads and utilities. On September 1, 2018, vehicles employed in private security may also have flashing lights.
The vehicles of police departments, sheriff’s office, the Texas Highway Patrol, public and private colleges and universities with police officers, and the Texas Department of Public Safety may use red, white and blue combination lights, including light bars. (Texas Transportation Code Section 547.305(c).).
Texas Transportation Section Code 541.201(1)(A) places the vehicles of fire departments within the definition of “authorized emergency vehicles.” This statute allows Texas fire trucks and ambulances to use red lights. Like, police these first responder vehicles should have two red lights on the front of their rigs and two red lights on the rear of the vehicles.
Two front and two rear red lights which flash in an alternate fashion. The front and back lights must be mounted level with each other and be visible for up to 500 feet away.
A temporarily-mounted red light on the roof of the vehicle. In normal daylight, vehicles or others as far as 500 feet away must be able to see the lights.
To activate the lights from a private vehicle, the volunteer firefighter must be responding to a fire or other medical emergency. Such incidents may include crashes, other incidents resulting in injuries, or a person suffering a heart attack, stroke or otherwise falling ill and in need of emergency care.
“Emergency medical services vehicles” also have authority under Texas Transportation Code Section 541.201(1)(C) to have emergency lights. Within this category lie vehicles that provide basic or advanced life-support, serve as mobile intensive care units, or other “specialized” emergency vehicles. (Texas Health and Safety Code Section 773(12).) Other medically-oriented vehicles that qualify as authorized emergency vehicles under Texas Transportation Code Section 541.201(1) include:
Industrial ambulances or industrial emergency vehicles
Vehicles that deliver, on an emergency basis, blood, organs, medicines or drugs, for blood or tissue banks.
“Guard companies” are licensed under Chapter 1702 of the Texas Occupations Code. Section 1702.108 defines these entities as those providing private guards, patrol persons or those serving as “watchmen.” Their functions include the prevention of trespass, fire, larceny, unauthorized entries, and personal protection of individuals. Employees of guard companies may perform limited traffic control only to the extent to protect entry to and from the property being guarded.
To be deemed a security officer means to offer security for a company’s security department or as part of the company providing security services. Such persons must hold responsibilities as a guard, watchman count patrolman, guard of armored cars or careers or respond to alarm systems that signal the unauthorized entry of people.
Texas permits a number of law enforcement, rescue, utility and road workers to have vehicles with warning lights. These lights warn others of the need to stay clear so that the workers who use or are with them can perform their duties effectively and safely.
Disclaimer: This emergency vehicle light state statute guide was created as a guide and reference. We make no claim to the accuracy or validity of this guide. This guide is provided to our customers as a courtesy ONLY! The information in this guide is our interpretation of the law as we have read it. We cannot be held responsible for any errors as this is only our interpretation of the law and the laws are constantly changing. We cannot be held liable or responsible for any errors and recommend that our customers refer to their local authorities to confirm the particular statue that governs their use of emergency vehicle lights.