Can tow trucks run red lights?

 In Blog

Having a car break down on a bridge, an interstate highway, or any other busy street or congested area may be considered an emergency by anyone caught behind the mess. But that doesn’t mean any vehicle that has been called to the scene is necessarily an emergency vehicle.

The same can be said for the scene of an auto accident as well, no matter where it takes place. We’re all familiar with the flashing headlights and red lights on top of police cars, ambulances, and fire trucks and know to get out of the way. But what about other vehicles that have been called in to assist?

Defining an Emergency Vehicle

Any vehicle can be called an emergency vehicle is approved in writing by the state patrol. However, even if you’ve been designated as an emergency vehicle, you won’t be able to behave the same way as more traditional emergency vehicles. The car or truck will also need to be outfitted with the proper lights.

In Washington State, tow trucks can be equipped with flashing red lights for emergency situations. The lights must be visible from 500 feet under normal weather circumstances in all directions. These red emergency lights must be intermittent or able to revolve.

However, this only applies when the tow trucks are at the emergency site. These lights are not to be used during normal operation or even on the way to the emergency. Additionally, the lights must comply with all Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and specifications set by the Society of Automotive Engineers.

What about that other meaning?

If you arrived at this page for something other than what kind of lights tow trucks can be equipped with, the above answer may not be satisfactory. If you were wondering if tow trucks can run through red traffic lights, the answer is no. Nope. Never.

Even police cars with red lights flashing and siren blaring slow down and make sure an intersection is clear before advancing. But even if the authorities did blow through a red light at an intersection, tow trucks aren’t allowed to.

Remember: tow trucks are only designated as an emergency vehicle when they are at the scene of an emergency. They can’t even use the flashing red light until they are at the site and must obey all of the rules of the road on the way to and leaving the scene.

Hopefully, you’ll never need our services in an emergency or life-threatening situation. However, if you do need our services, please reach out to us and we’ll get to you as soon as we can. We treat every situation the same by setting up a safety perimeter with reflective traffic triangle or flares and making sure we can do our job in the safest manner available.

And always remember: if you do the see the flashing lights of the police, an ambulance, or a fire engine, slow down and move over. In a true emergency, every second could make a difference.

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