The color of an emergency vehicle's lights can often be the simplest way to notice and identify any unusual vehicle on the road. Even when it is too dark to see the vehicle, you can typically figure out what it is based on the color of its flashing lights. However, not every location has the same exact type of laws regarding automobile lights, so iconic light colors can actually be different in different regions. In the state of Missouri, there are strict statutes for what type of emergency vehicle lights may be used by various emergency vehicles. Here's what you need to know about the emergency vehicle light laws for Missouri.
Missouri state statute 304.022.1 lays out the rules for emergency law enforcement vehicles. These laws apply to all types of law enforcement officials, including normal police departments, state highway patrol, state park rangers, traffic officers, coroners, and sheriffs. According to the lights, they must have at least one red lighted lamp that can be viewed from at least five hundred feet away and at least one blue light that can flash. In Missouri, vehicles equipped with blue police lights must have a permit. In order to get the permit, they are required to speak to the chief of the appropriate department in person and get a permit issued in writing.
Fire Truck Lights
In the Missouri state statute 307.175, the rules for lights on fire emergency trucks are laid out. These rules apply to both traditional fire trucks and other fire rescue squad vehicles. When responding to a fire or ambulance call, they can use a blue fire truck light. These lights may be either fixed lights, flashing lights, or rotating lights. In Missouri, fire trucks are only allowed to activate their lights during a "true emergency," and they must also use the siren when they are going to the emergency. Fire trucks can get permits for these lights by applying to the chief of their fire department and getting permission in writing.
Volunteer Firefighter Lights
As Missouri statute 307.175.1 states, the laws for emergency lights are the same whether the organized fire department is paid or volunteer. This means that any vehicle run by a fire department can display emergency lighting as long as they have written permission from the chief of their department. These lights must be a blue light that is either fixed, flashing, or rotated. Whenever the lights are turned on, it must be due to a true emergency, and the volunteer firefighters are required to turn on a siren during the time that the emergency lights are turned on.
Under Missouri state law, ambulances are in the same class of emergency vehicle as fire department vehicles. Therefore, they are governed by the 307.175.1 statutes. When an ambulance is responding to a call that is an emergency, it is authorized to use a blue light that may be either flashing, rotating, or fixed. While running this light, the ambulance must also have its siren on. Ambulance vehicles are only allowed to use lights if they have a written permit from the chief of their ambulance department.
Tow Truck Lights
The lights on a tow truck will vary depending on their function and their owner. Under statute 304.022.4 (4), a tow truck can use a red and flashing blue light if it is owned and operated by a public utility or public service corporation and if it is in the process of providing an emergency service. This statute requires any tow truck using emergency lights to also have a siren going. However, tow trucks can only use these lights when responding to an emergency. There are no other specific laws regulating tow truck lights, but some trucks may choose to use an amber flashing or fixed light for further visibility. If they choose to include extra lamps, they must satisfy the laws of state statute 307.080 that claims they may not use more than three lamps mounted at a height between 12 to 42 inches above the ground.
Construction Vehicle Lights
Construction vehicles are vehicles that work in construction areas. They may be seen halted or moving slowly along the sides of various roads. These vehicles fall under statute 307.115 that specifies that road machinery or implements must have at least one white lamp visible from the front from 500 feet and one red lamp in the rear that is visible from the rear for 500 feet. Due to their very slow movement, some construction vehicles may choose to use construction vehicle lighting approved by statute 307.050. According to this law, a vehicle does not need to bother with approved headlamps as long as they do not operate above 20 miles an hour and have two lighted lamps on the front that are either white or yellow lights strong enough to display things 75 feet ahead of the vehicle. State statute 307.080 states that vehicles that choose to mount additional amber lamps for visibility must use no more than three lamps and mount them somewhere between a height of 12 to 42 inches off the ground.
Utility Vehicle Lights
If a vehicle is used for a public utility service, such as electricity or water, it is classified as a utility vehicle. These utility vehicles may display emergency lighting under the statutes of 304.022.2. This states that they can display flashing amber or amber and white lights while stationary as a cautionary measure. During a response to a true emergency, the statute also allows any vehicle owned and operated by a public utility to use a red and blue flashing light while moving. To get permits for red and blue emergency lighting, the utility truck driver must get a written permit from the head of their department.
Pilot Vehicle Lights
Pilot vehicles are the vehicles used to escort an oversized load along the highway. Though Missouri has some regulations for these types of vehicles, there are no laws that specifically reference the strobe lights on these vehicles. Any pilot vehicle simply needs to follow the standard lighting and headlamp rules laid out in Missouri state chapter 307. This means they must use two white headlights and red taillights like any other vehicle during the night or adverse weather conditions. Escort vehicles can choose to use auxiliary headlamps for further visibility if desired. State statute 307.080 explains that these extra headlamps must be a white or amber color, no more than three in number, and mounted somewhere between 12 to 42 inches off the ground.
Security Vehicle Lights
Security vehicles are the vehicles that patrol mall parking lots and other areas for security, but they are privately owned and operated. According to statute 304.022 of Missouri state law, these sorts of vehicles do not qualify as an emergency vehicle, so they are not qualified to use any sort of fixed or flashing red or blue emergency lighting. Instead, these vehicles must adhere to statute 307.095 and only display headlamps of a white, yellow, or amber color. Security vehicles can decide to add some extra lamps to their vehicle for added visibility. If they choose to do this, they must adhere to statute 307.080 and mount no more than three extra lamps somewhere between 12 to 42 inches off the ground.
For more information about what lights may be available to you, we suggest calling your State Highway Patrol office at: 573-751-3313
*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.