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Oregon Emergency Vehicle Light Statutes

Oregon Emergency Vehicle Light Statutes


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.

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State Overview

Before we delve into the statutes, it’s essential to understand what is considered an emergency vehicle. According to Oregon emergency vehicle light statutes section 801.260, an emergency vehicle is any vehicle that is used by a public police department, fire department, or airport security, OR is designated as such by a federal agency or the Director of Transportation. 

Then it’s also important to distinguish between emergency and warning lights since they are not the same. Emergency lights are used in case of an emergency by authorized emergency personnel in emergency vehicles, and typically are red or blue. Warning lights are used to alert oncoming traffic of obstruction of traffic, or different kinds of driving like slow driving with the use of amber or white lights. These are used in non-emergency situations and often employed in special situations and for commercial or farming vehicles. 

Law Enforcement Statutes

Police and Sheriff Vehicles

According to the Oregon emergency vehicle light statute section 816.250, police and law enforcement vehicles are permitted the use of blue, red, yellow, amber, or white lights. These lights can either be rotating or they can be stationary – either are legal. It’s crucial that these lights are able to be seen from a minimum distance of 1,000 feet as anything less is considered not bright enough and therefore against the law. They must also be visible at such a distance in normal weather conditions. 

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Fire and EMT

Fire Truck & Fire Chief SUVs

In Oregon, firetrucks and fire chief SUVs are allowed a variety of different colored lights. In section 816.285, it is explained that firetrucks and any fire department vehicles or authorized emergency vehicles are allowed the use of red and white flashing lights, as well as green lights should they be serving as a command post. 

Volunteer Fire Fighter Vehicles

According to section 818.250, a volunteer firefighter vehicle can use the same lights a firetruck does. It is also considered an authorized emergency vehicle and is allowed the use of flashing red and white lights in order to alert oncoming traffic of its arrival. Additionally, it is important that the lights can be seen from a 500-foot distance in normal weather conditions, and that the flashing lights only be turned on during the drive to or from responding to an emergency. 

Ambulance & EMT Vehicles

According to section 820.350, ambulance and EMT vehicles may be required to use warning lights. However, the statute does not explain what colored warning lights are permitted to be used in an emergency situation but an activated siren must accompany the lights. 

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Commercial and Amber Statutes

Wreckers and Tow Trucks

Tow trucks and wreckers are briefly mentioned in the Oregon emergency vehicle light statutes as helping disabled vehicles. In accordance with section 816.240, these vehicles are allowed the use of emergency lights, including red and white or amber lights. 

Utility Vehicles

Section 816.350 explains that in the state of Oregon, utility vehicles are permitted the use of warning lights. This means that they are allowed the use of white or amber flashing lights in order to keep employees and motorists safe. 

Pilot and Escort Vehicles

Oregon has quite extensive rules and requirements for pilot and escort vehicles in accordance with section 734-076-0165. Pilot and escort vehicles are required to use flashing warning lights, specifically two flashing amber lights placed far apart, revolving flashing amber lights, or amber strobe lights that are visible from any angle. These lights must also flash a minimum of 30 times per minute. Additionally, the vehicle must also be equipped with a warning sign and two flags. 

Construction Vehicles

As with the utility vehicles, construction vehicles are also allowed the use of warning lights. Amber or white flashing lights are permitted also in the form of strobe lights and additional measures should be taken like cones, warning signs, and more. Hazard lights as described in section 816.240 are also allowed to be used. 

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