Uses of Police Red and Blue Lights

What is the History behind using the Emergency Lights? What are the Different Colors of Emergency Lights? What is Emergency Vehicle Lighting?
Police Red and Blue Lights

Did you ever come across a situation when the red and blue light, flashed in your rearview mirror along with a loud siren? Yes, I am talking about police red and blue lights. Several colors of light are available, but why police red and blue lights are given priority over other colors? You have noticed these lights on ambulances, police vehicles, and fire trucks. So today, you are going to know more about red and blue emergency lights. 

1. What are Emergency Vehicle Lights?

Vehicles with one or more visual warning lights are known as emergency vehicles. They can be of different shapes and are placed either on top of a vehicle or its bonnet. These include wig-wag light, hide-away, a beacon or a light bar, etc. These lights are accompanied by sirens and used in case of utter emergency. (See What does Mayday mean?)

2. What is the History of Emergency Lights?

police red and blue lights 2

The usage of these lights dates back to World War II. In order to protect the areas from attacks from airplanes, Germans started using blue emergency lights. In 1935 there was a black-out to stop or reduce aerial attacks. During those periods red light was used as an emergency light. But because of the scattering properties of the blue color, they start to use it in the later years as it became difficult for airplanes to spot their target and attack. The blue color was only visible from lower altitudes. But why are the police red and blue lights used for emergency purposes? (See Morse Code Uses in Communication)

3. Why Police Red and Blue Lights are used for Emergencies?

Reason behind red and blue emergency lights in police vehicles: police red and blue lights 1

  • When an emergency vehicle is passing over and flashing the emergency lights, it indicates that they are coming from an accident site and rushing towards the hospital or, it may be some other emergency. So, it should be followed as a rule to slow down and give way to these vehicles. The vehicles flash these lights with a loud siren to indicate the other drivers on the road to pave the way for it. 
  • These lights enable the vehicles to cross traffic lights to attend to an emergency. Other drivers on the road move towards the side on hearing the siren understanding the situation themselves. Other uses include negotiating and directing traffic or, indicating to the drivers that there are some dangerous roadways conditions ahead. (Also read Mounted Police Jobs)
  • The main reason behind using red-colored lights is that they universally mean to stop. The red color is associated with the word STOP. When police flash red lights, it becomes easy for the driver to understand that they need to pull off. The blue lights scatter the most, so they seemed to be the best choice for contrasting with the red light.
  • According to studies, red lights are easily visible during the daytime, and it is easy to spot blue lights at night. Also, it becomes easier for people to locate an officer during an emergency through these flashing lights. (See Top 5 Urban Slangs for Police)

4. What are the different Types of  Vehicle Lights?

Different lights convey different messages. Therefore, different types of vehicles use a variety of lights.

  • Red light is a signal of emergency or to stop instantly. So, it is used in most parts of the world by police, ambulance, and fire vehicles.
  • Green lights are used in vehicles like paramedics, Emergency Medical Technicians EMTs, and first responders. Though using green lights require an official permit, they can also be used by the government and private security firms.
  • Amber lights are mostly used for construction vehicles. Like, escort, tow trucks, public works, and wreckers. Police vehicles use amber color lights while they are directing the roadways traffic.
  • Purple lights are used for funeral procession vehicles. But using purple light for the funeral procession is not common in many parts of the world.
  • White lights are used for an ambulance, fire trucks, and police vehicles, and they are used in certain situations of public services. (See What does the Diamond Shaped Traffic Sign Means?)

5. What Types of Vehicles are using Red and Blue Emergency Lights?

blue car lights

There can be several types of emergency vehicles. Types of emergency vehicles used in a country depend on the country’s jurisdiction. Apart from being used as police red and blue lights, there are a variety of vehicles using these lights. Broadly they are classified into medical, law enforcement, firefighting, and others.

The vehicles involved in a medical category are ambulance (air, normal, motorcycle), and non-transporting EMS vehicles. The firefighting department has a water tender, fire engine, fire car, light, and air unit. Law enforcement has police vehicles (van, car, bicycle, and motorcycle), police S.W.A.T, and mobile communication vehicles.

So, today you got to know why the police red and blue lights are used throughout the world. Also, you came across the reasons behind using red and blue lights in vehicles like ambulances, police, and fire trucks. So, you should follow the rules and give these vehicles space while you are driving or walking because you may not know what kind of emergency and the critical situation they are rushing to, or the situation they are returning from. (See 8 Facts about Cracks in Sidewalk)

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