Each state has enacted specific regulations regarding the color and type of lighting which characterizes various emergency vehicles. This lighting helps the general public to recognize the type of vehicle approaching them and respond appropriately. The following are some of the emergency vehicle lights which may be expected on South Carolina roads. Private or unmarked vehicles which are occupied by emergency and law enforcement officers may also use the appropriate warning lights when responding to emergency situations.
State patrol, local police, and municipality sheriff's vehicles in South Carolina are required to be equipped with oscillating, rotating or flashing blue lights. In addition to the blue lights, they may also display alternately flashing red lights, white lights, or both. These vehicle lights must be visible for a distance of 500 feet in all directions in normal sunlight. Only police vehicles may legally use blue flashing lights.
Red flashing police lights may also be used by federal or military law enforcement vehicles when responding to emergencies. Certified corrections officers, federal natural resources vehicles, environmental control and forestry commission vehicles may also use flashing red lights while performing law enforcement duties.
Fire Trucks Lights
Emergency firefighting and rescue squad vehicles need to be equipped with both forward and rear facing red lights, or red lights that oscillate and rotate while flashing in all directions. These fire truck lights must also be visible for a distance of 500 feet in normal sunlight. This statute applied to both paid and volunteer firefighter vehicles.
Ambulances and Medical Emergency Vehicles
Defined in South Carolina as emergency vehicles, ambulances are also required to be equipped with forward and rear facing red flashing lights which are visible for a distance of 500 feet in daylight, or top-mounted oscillating and rotating red lights. This statute applies to both privately and publicly owned ambulances. Besides ambulances, this includes coroner/deputy coroner vehicles.
Private physicians responding to medical emergencies may use a dashboard-mounted flashing green light, which must be visible for a distance of 500 feet.
Wrecker / Tow trucks should be equipped with flashing forward and rear-facing red lights or top mounted red flashing, oscillating, and rotating red lights. These lights should only be used at the scene of an accident. At other times, tow trucks should be equipped with flashing amber to red lights and tow truck operators should wear appropriate reflective clothing for safety purposes.
Road Construction and Utility Vehicles
Road construction and utility vehicles in South Carolina fall under the definition of a traffic hazard which requires unusual care. These types of vehicles must be equipped with appropriate lighting to warn traffic of obstructions and workers which may impede traffic or cause a safety hazard. The required warning lights should be evenly spaced, rear-facing and all at the same height; flashing amber and red, or any shade between the two. Flashing white lights may also be used simultaneously.
Special permits are required for moving over-sized loads. These permits specify the types of roads that will be traveled. Permits are required for loads exceeding 8 feet six inches wide, over 13 feet six inches wide, or trailers over 53 feet long. There are further restrictions for two-lane highways. Over-sized loads may travel only from sunrise to sunset Monday through Friday, and limited hours during the day on Saturday and holidays.
Only private security vehicles which are being regulated by the State Law Enforcement Division are allowed to use red or blue flashing lights. Any other private security vehicles which may possibly impede traffic may use a flashing amber light for safety reasons. These types of vehicles may be used at public malls, campuses, or large sports or entertainment venues to ensure public safety.
South Carolina allows for a wide variety of vehicles to utilize warning lights as needed to give appropriate warning to other vehicles and pedestrians about potentially dangerous conditions and impediments. Also, many counties require special training before operating emergency vehicles such as ambulances or firefighting trucks and equipment.
Any vehicle which fails to heed the warning lights of law enforcement or other emergency vehicles faces stiff legal consequences. The same applies to any vehicle displaying red or blue lights without the proper authority to do so. Any authorized vehicle displaying flashing blue or red lights should be yielded the right of way in order to perform their assigned duty without delay or interference.
For more information about what lights may be available to you, we suggest calling your State Highway Patrol office at: 803-896-7920
*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.