Iowa Emergency Vehicle Light State Statutes

iowaThroughout the country, emergency vehicles are important for transporting people or vehicles after an accident, clean up after an emergency, and more. No matter what type of vehicle it is, as long as it fits within the description of an emergency or hazard vehicle, it is allowed certain light privileges in the states.

However, each state has different lighting laws that require certain emergency vehicles to have certain colored lights, certain flashes, and sirens as well. If a company or vehicle wishes to purchase warning lights in the state of Iowa, considering the laws for caution and emergency lights is important to avoid fines or other issues with the law.

In this article, we will explore the various laws put in place for each type of emergency or caution vehicle commonly found in Iowa. As we look over each type, we will also discuss the need for sirens, certain colored lights, and what type of flash the lights need in order to comply with the laws in this state.

Emergency Vehicles Defined

Before looking at the different types, the first thing that must be addressed is the requirements needed to classify a vehicle as an emergency vehicle in the state of Iowa. According to their state statute of 321-1-1-6, any emergency vehicle is one that is considered to be a police, EMS, fire, or any other vehicle that handles emergency situations.

In order to comply with the state laws, the emergency vehicles must be owned by the United States or a subdivision, municipality, or by the Department of Transportation in the state of Iowa. All emergency vehicles should be registered with Iowa DoT as well to ensure that all laws are being complied with regarding emergency lights.

Police Car Lights

A police vehicle is any marked or unmarked car that is registered with the city and state police departments within the state of Iowa. These cars can mean anything from county sheriff’s cars to city police cars to state trooper’s vehicles on the roads.

According to the statute 321-423-3(3), any police vehicle that is on the road is required to use both red and blue police lights in regards to emergency situations. The blue lights on the car are required to be mounted just over the passenger side of the car, and the red lights should be placed on the driver’s side of the car. There are no siren requirements along with the lights in the state of Iowa.

Fire Truck Lights

Any fire truck in Iowa is a truck that is registered with the state or city fire departments. The fire trucks will have a ladder as normal as well as a siren that can be turned on in the case of a dire emergency. When it comes to fire truck lights, Iowa’s fire trucks have a different type of light law.

In the state of Iowa, all fire trucks are required to use blue flashing lights on the vehicles, which is noted in the state statute of 321-423-2-3. Fire trucks must also be registered with the Iowa DoT.

Volunteer Fire Truck Lights

Similar to a fire truck, volunteer fire trucks are trucks registered with a volunteer fire department that helps the city fire departments fight fires throughout the city and county areas. The volunteer fire departments have normal vehicles, but they are registered with the Department of Transportation as a volunteer fire truck.

According to the Iowa state laws, any volunteer fire department trucks should use the same type of lights as a fire truck. This would be blue flashing lights as long as the vehicle is registered with the DoT as a volunteer fire truck.

Ambulance Lights

An ambulance is a vehicle that transports people from the scene of an accident or emergency to the nearest hospital for care. Ambulance vehicles are equipped with various medical equipment as well as emergency lights and sirens. There are still laws regarding the lights for an ambulance and EMS vehicles, as well as how they can be used.

According to the statute in Iowa for ambulances, 321.423.4.2.f, these vehicles are required to have white lights that flash in order to warn other drivers on the road of the emergency for yielding. The Iowa state law for ambulances does not require the lights and sirens to be going at the same time.

Tow Truck Lights

In the entire country, tow trucks are used to move a vehicle from the scene of an accident of emergency from one place to the next. Tow trucks, however, tend to be large and bulky on the road, which is why they are equipped with tow truck caution lights on the front to warn other drivers on the road in their presence.

In Iowa, tow trucks are required to use amber lights on their vehicles. This falls under the category of the Iowa emergency light statute of 321-423-6. The lights on the tow truck should be flashing lights in order to warn the other drivers on the road.

Construction Vehicle Lights

iowa-state-flagA construction vehicle is any type of vehicle on the road that is a construction company vehicle, especially when it comes to construction along the highways, roads, and interstates. The construction vehicles are often sitting on the side of the road, even in high traffic, which is why lights are important.

The caution lights for a construction vehicle is similar to the tow truck lights, and they fall under the same emergency vehicle light statute for the state of Iowa. Construction vehicles should have amber lights on the top that are flashing in order to make other drivers aware of the vehicles on the road or the side of the road at a construction site.

Utility Vehicle Lights

Utility vehicles can be a number of vehicles, but usually, they are in the form of a power truck. These vehicles need a caution and warning light to alert traffic to the truck and their seriousness, especially in the case of an emergency. The lights should be amber, revolving lights with 360-degrees along with 100-candlepower.

Pilot Vehicle Lights

Pilot vehicles are any type of vehicle on the road that is either guiding traffic through a construction site during road work or a vehicle that guides a wide load through the roadways. Pilot vehicles are important to alerting traffic to oncoming loads or of the seriousness of the construction. This is why lights on a pilot vehicle are so important.

The caution lights on a pilot vehicle have their own specifications. First, they should be a revolving light amber in color. Second, the light should be 7-inches high and 7-inches round. The lights should also have 360-degrees of rotation in the light, and it should have a minimum of a 100-candlepower brightness. Unless a strobe light is used, there should be no smaller lights on the car. Lights should also be on the towed vehicle.

Security Vehicle Lights

Any security vehicle is a vehicle that drives around a location on patrol to protect the location. This can include college campuses, malls, or large plants. However, a security vehicle also needs a caution and warning light similar to a police car.

Security vehicles do not fall under a police vehicle, and they should use the same caution light as a utility vehicle or a pilot vehicle with an amber light that flashes with 360-degree rotation and 100-candlepower strength. The light should also be 7-inches round and 7-inches high to comply with the Iowa state laws.


State laws vary for each state, and the laws of using caution, warning. and strobe lights are no exceptions. In the state of Iowa, the light laws for each type of emergency vehicle differ slightly from one type of vehicle to the next. One of the most important things to remember is the difference between a normal vehicle and an emergency vehicle.

In the state of Iowa, an emergency vehicle is any type of vehicle that is required in an emergency situation, which can include police cars, tow trucks, construction vehicles, and fire trucks. The state of Iowa does not require any sirens to be on at the same time as the caution lights.

Warning lights are important, especially for vehicles that are used in emergencies or after accidents. These vehicles that are equipped with the lights are put in place to alert other drivers on the road of upcoming loads, emergency situations, or the need to make room for the vehicle to come through. Warning lights do have laws, though, which should be followed no matter what.

No matter the situation, caution lights might comply with the individual state laws, no matter which states the vehicle is in. The best way to ensure that any vehicle is following the state law is to check with the state’s Department of Transportation for the specific laws regarding certain emergency vehicles and the light laws that are required. It is important to adhere to these laws to ensure that no fines or other issues are given due to a mistake with compliance involving the lights on an emergency vehicle.

For more information about what lights may be available to you, we suggest calling your State Highway Patrol office at: 515-725-6090

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


Disclaimer: The emergency vehicle light state statute guide was created by Extreme Tactical Dynamics as a guide and reference. We make no claim to the accuracy or validity of this guide. This guide was written to the best of our knowledge and has been 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.