This article was written by a contributing author, and is not meant to be taken as legal advice, nor is it intended to replace the state statutes. Do your due diligence, cross-check the statutes linked, and communicate with your local municipalities, registrar, or commissioner to ensure that you remain compliant and avoid costly fees.
Kindly contact us if you have any suggestions to improve this article here.
Get Help and Avoid The Statute Confusion
As a courtesy, we are happy to connect you to an expert in your state who will guide you on being compliant with your emergency vehicle lighting and other warning equipment.
Call us at 888-439-1925.
Like every other state, Delaware comes with a unique set of laws surrounding the use of emergency lights for each authorized emergency vehicle. Their laws are pretty extensive, and although they don’t specifically mention every vehicle, you can likely match the purpose of your vehicle to the statute. As always, contact your local municipalities for information that is specific to your industry.
Delaware also provides a brief but exhaustive list of what qualifies as an emergency vehicle under Delaware State Statute 4106. An authorized emergency vehicle is defined as:
- Vehicles of a fire department
- Police vehicles
- Vehicle of State Forester when performing forester duties
- Vehicle of the Forest Fire Control Supervisor
- Vehicle of the State Emergency Response Team
- Federal, county, or municipal departments or public service operations as are designated or authorized by the Secretary of Safety and Homeland Security.
Law Enforcement Statutes
Police, Marshall, and Sheriff Vehicles
A police vehicle, as allowed by Delaware State Statute 4348, may have flashing white headlamps as permitted by the chief of their department. These flashing emergency lights must only be used when on the way to an emergency scene. Every police vehicle and law enforcement vehicle in Delaware must come equipped with a red light per Delaware State Statute 4356.
In addition to the red light, a Fire Police vehicle may come equipped with flashing blue and white lights. This is unique as most states only permit a blue light to be allowed on a police vehicle.
A police vehicle may utilize a green emergency if they are indicating the location of a command post at the scene of an emergency. This is indicated in Delaware State Stature 4356A. The green emergency light may not be used under any other circumstances.
A police vehicle or law enforcement vehicle is permitted to disregard the posted speed limit and any other traffic law as necessary to arrive promptly at an emergency scene per Delaware State Statute 4106. They must do so while also exercising caution and due regard for the safety of each motor vehicle and pedestrian on the road to prevent an accident.
Traffic is required to yield to a police vehicle or law enforcement vehicle by change 2 lanes to provide room for an emergency scene or by pulling off the road or highway completely to create safe passage.
Fire and EMS Statues
Fire Trucks and Fire Chief SUVs
Delaware State Statute 4348 allows a fire truck or other vehicles owned by the fire department to equip white flashing head lamps. This light may only be used when the fire truck is on the way to an emergency scene. They must be authorized by the fire chief to have permission to use them.
Delaware State Statute 4356 permits a fire truck or other vehicles owned by the fire department to utilize lashing Blue and white lights. This is unique, as blue lights are generally restricted to use by law enforcement. In Delaware, it appears that fire has the blue light majority rights.
They may also display a combination of flashing red, blue, or white lights. Which color required to be used is not explicitly stated under Delaware law, but it is clear that at least one emergency light must be attached to each vehicle owned by the fire department.
A vehicle owned by the fire department may also display a green light to indicate a command post. The light may not be used for any other purpose as stated under Delaware State Stature 4356A.
A fire truck or any vehicle owned by the fire department is permitted to disregard the posted speed limit and any other traffic law as necessary to arrive promptly at an emergency scene per Delaware State Statute 4106. They are also required to be utilizing some form of audible signal or siren while doing so. They must do so while also exercising caution and due regard for the safety of each motor vehicle and pedestrian on the road to prevent an accident.
All traffic and every motor vehicle on the road must yield to a fire vehicle when they are using their lights. This means that they need to either change 2 lanes if possible or pull off the road or highway completely to allow safe passage.
Volunteer Fire Fighter Vehicles
Volunteer firefighters are not given any permissions in Delaware law to utilize any emergency lighting on their personal vehicles. Delaware State Statute 4356 permits a volunteer firefight to use flashing blue and red lights or flashing blue, red, and white lights as long as they are in a department-owned vehicle.
Since the vehicle used by the volunteer firefighter is owned by the fired department and comes equipped with the proper lighting, they are permitted to disregard the posted speed limit and any other traffic law as necessary to arrive promptly at an emergency scene per Delaware State Statute 4106. They are also required to be utilizing some form of audible signal or siren while doing so. They must do so while also exercising caution and due regard for the safety of each motor vehicle and pedestrian on the road to prevent an accident.
Every motor vehicle on the road or highway must yield to an authorized emergency vehicle operated by a volunteer firefighter. If possible, they must change at least two lanes to give room to the emergency scene or pull off the road or highway completely to offer safe passage.
Ambulance and EMT Vehicles
Delaware State Statute 4348 permits flashing headlights to be used in an ambulance or authorized emergency vehicle owned by the public or private ambulance company. Permission must be obtained from the ambulance captain and may not be installed or used in a personal vehicle.
The Chief EMS Operator is permitted to display flash blue and red lights according to Delaware State Stature 4356. No other emergency personnel employed by a private or public ambulance company is permitted to display a blue light.
Delaware State Statute 4134 indicates that an ambulance is permitted to display a red light on the top of the vehicle as well.
An ambulance or EMS vehicle is permitted to disregard the posted speed limit and any other traffic law as necessary to arrive promptly at an emergency scene per Delaware State Statute 4106. They must have their audible signal or siren playing while doing so. They must do so while also exercising caution and due regard for the safety of each motor vehicle and pedestrian on the road to prevent an accident.
Traffic is required by Delaware law to yield to an ambulance or emergency medical vehicle by pulling to the side of the road or highway or moving over at least two lanes to provide ample room and create a safe working environment at the emergency scene.
Commercial and Amber Statutes
There are no laws explicitly mentioning the use of emergency lighting for security vehicles. While there are no provisions or regulations, it wouldn’t hurt to contact your local municipality or Department of Motor Vehicles to inquire about special permits and licensing.
Wreckers and Tow Trucks
Delaware State Statute 4134 permits a tow truck or wrecker to illuminate a flashing amber light or amber and white emergency lights. They must be attached to the highest point of the vehicle to alert traffic of the potential hazard on the road or highway so that they exercise caution when passing.
A tractor is not explicitly mentioned for LED lighting for emergency lights in the Delaware code. There are provisions requiring reflectors, but lighting was not included. Delaware State Statute 4134 does indicate that a vehicle may utilize a flashing amber and white light if they are actively engaging in the removal of a hazard on the road. This is likely the only code that may apply for tractor lighting.
Delaware State Statute 4134 allows utility vehicles to display a flashing amber or white light when performing duties near a road that may cause a safety hazard on the road. Traffic is required to yield to utility vehicles by changing lanes and giving them ample room to safely work.
Pilot and Escort Vehicles
Pilot vehicles come with their own set of rules and regulations that are illustrated and a 30+ page handbook. They must first pass an exam based on the book before they may even consider using any amber or white lights.
Delaware State Statute 4343 gives some of the most detail regarding lighting needs for authorized emergency vehicles. This section talks about the lighting requirements for a construction vehicle or Semi that is carrying a load that hangs off the end by at least four feet.
If a load extends past the bed by at least four feet, the vehicle must display an additional red light visible at a distance of 500 feet under normal atmospheric conditions and sunlight. This light must be illuminated toward the extreme rear and must be used when a 12-inch red flag is used.
Funeral processions are not explicitly mentioned in Delaware law. Since a funeral procession requires the use of a pilot vehicle, it may likely fall under that category where the operator must read an extensive manual and pass a course before being permitted to operate as a pilot vehicle.
Emergency Lights On Personal Vehicles
Even when working with a precinct or emergency medical or fire department, no exemptions are made for using a personal vehicle with emergency lighting as an authorized emergency vehicle.
Aside from emergency vehicles requiring permission from the chiefs of departments and captains of the ambulance company, no special permits or permissions were required.
When it comes to state laws surrounding emergency lights, Delaware is unique as they have different rules surrounding color usage and light placement. Their rules are extensive and easy to follow.
Make sure to contact your local municipalities for additional rules and regulations that may not be stated in this article. This is not an exhaustive list of all provisions and exemptions, so you must do your due diligence to avoid costly fines.