Amber and other lights

  • Thread starter Brett Gustafson
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Brett Gustafson

I've noticed lately that quite a few spotters and chasers out here in IL have mounted amber rotating/strobe lights on their cars. I just wanted to point out that this is not technically legal in most cases in Illinois, as well as a few other states (like Nebraska).

If you're not sure of your states law and you have one of those on your car, you may want to look into it.
 
I just wanted to point out that this is not technically legal in most cases in Illinois.
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You mind pointing out where it says that? Since when I read the law a few days ago (I may be moving to Chicago area) it didn't say they were illegal...which means they are legal. Of course IL law looks to be written in kings english instead of common language so I could be reading it wrong.

Flying down the highway at 110 with a lightbar is one thing...parked on the side of the road in 10 foot visibility with an amber light flashing should be another.

ps: I don't have lights..just curious ;)

-Tyler
 
To light or not to light.... That is the question.

Yes, this comes up every year and at times, gets pretty heated.

To suffice. Be aware of the laws in your particular state. Use common sense. Have a legitimate need. Be safe! Amber lights give you no special priveledges. Use them judicously. I believe the vast majority of those that post here have the right idea.

Nuff said on that score!

John
 
This May, on a two-lane highway somewhere in Kansas, I saw a fuel truck coming the opposite direction that abruptly moved onto the shoulder, still moving at highway speeds. From behind him, a chaser vehicle with several 'bars' of strobing amber lights and flashing headlights zipped past. I slowed down and moved toward the shoulder as the two vehicles approached. It was clear that the tanker driver believed the chaser was an emergency vehicle.
 
This May, on a two-lane highway somewhere in Kansas, I saw a fuel truck coming the opposite direction that abruptly moved onto the shoulder, still moving at highway speeds. From behind him, a chaser vehicle with several 'bars' of strobing amber lights and flashing headlights zipped past. I slowed down and moved toward the shoulder as the two vehicles approached. It was clear that the tanker driver believed the chaser was an emergency vehicle.
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This exact thing happened to me two weeks ago in Utah. An "official" looking white pickup truck had his lightbar running and people were pulling over, basically, so he could speed and weave through traffic. Turns out he was just a building contractor. Very obnoxious.

Despite any benign intentions chasers or anyone else may have for lightbar use, public perception is that lightbars=official. Color doesn't seem to matter much in the general public. Out on the road, people can be startled by a blazing lightbar of any shade.

There is a public vulnerability, which, whether we want to believe it or not, exists. Lightbars, as uniforms, are a common identifying mark of an official vehicle. That perception could serve someone with bad intentions too, such as a criminal/police impersonator, to abuse the public perception and take advantage. The oldest trick in the book is to present oneself as "official", in a vehicle, or a knock at the door, to enter someone's home, and commit a spectrum of crimes.

No matter what the use, a private individual should have to file for a permit with the state for lightbar use. I might not be on the popular side of things but I think lightbars should be strictly regulated, and applied for through a permit process and I think that is completely reasonable. During operation, the inability to produce the permit to law enforcement should be grounds for a citation and fine. Using lightbars in the commission of a crime would constitute one more charge against that person.

Something has to be done about police, utility worker, or the roofing company imposter problem, and this might be a way to put some teeth into it. I'd propose that aside from those really official, anyone else should have to apply for legitimate lightbar use. Chasers who would want to continue to use them would have no problem with this, simply because if they truly are using them for constructive reasons such as safety, it shouldn't be hard to pitch the idea and be granted the permit.

The chasers who used them to manipulate traffic should be given a hefty fine.
 
You mind pointing out where it says that? Since when I read the law a few days ago (I may be moving to Chicago area) it didn't say they were illegal...which means they are legal. Of course IL law looks to be written in kings english instead of common language so I could be reading it wrong.

Flying down the highway at 110 with a lightbar is one thing...parked on the side of the road in 10 foot visibility with an amber light flashing should be another.

ps: I don't have lights..just curious ;)

-Tyler
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It's in 625 ILCS 5/12‑215. They provide a few exceptions, but those are mostly for tow trucks and similar vehicles. While it technically isn't legal, you could probably get away with it if using it while parked.


Again, as Jeff pointed out, we already have a thread for this discussion here:
http://www.stormtrack.org/forum/index.php?showtopic=5900

Among many others.
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That thread is in the vault though, which is a locked forum. You can't post or reply there.
 
Well yeah I guess it is. Point being though, what else can be said about it that hasn't been said many, MANY times over in that thread and several others? The end result is always the same. Some people get mad, sometimes arguements start, and in the end, the result is always the same, the people against them are still against them, and the people for them are still for them. It's like politics. It's one of those perpetual arguements that never changes anyones mind and both sides end up upset at the other.

Just do your own thing out there and let everyone else worry about their own thing and everyone will be happy. If it's illegal somewhere, if it's an issue for them, I am sure the REAL cops will take care of it. If not, I guess it never was an issue.
 
I agree with David, it's rather pointless to keep bringing this topic up... we're beating a dead horse on this subject. It nevers ceases to amaze me how this topic can come up every year, and yet each time this topic is brought up it's basically a repeat of the previous year threat regarding amber lights.

David has said it well, and if it were up to me I would lock this thread just because there is no true value that comes of this thread since it's been brought up every year for at least the past 4 years.
 
well so far the thread has been succesfully hijacked to be IL only...so I don't think it deserves a lock

Having read the legal doc presented above I don't know how I'm suppose to signal Im turning since it says I'm not allowed to have a flashing light and as far as I can tell I'm not allowed to use my hazards either ;)

-Tyler
 
.... I don't know how I'm suppose to signal Im turning since it says I'm not allowed to have a flashing light and as far as I can tell I'm not allowed to use my hazards either ;)
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Apparently you should just get a propane delivery truck as your chase vehicle - then you'd be good to go. It's also the law here that your headlights must be on to operate your windshield wipers. Of course, I've never heard of anyone actually getting a ticket for that. Odds are that if you run amber lights in IL you won't get arrested for impersonating a union representative - but you could always just try it and see what happens.


Glen
 
I was actually stopped the 1st day that wiper blade / headlight law was enacted (probabaly the ONLY person since) in '94. I guess I have it made in regards to running w/amber lights on. I haul lowboy (heavy construction equipment via multi-axle semi "WIDE LOAD" and am required to run amber lightbar) and always seem to be at work when severe wx breaks. I do have a 8 strobe amber / clear strobe bar on my pickup, BUT, I use it primarily for escorting other wide loads while I'm not moving equipment. And I plow in the winter. IL. state law OK's amber, clear and green lights. Blue lights for off duty fire dept. and red is a no-no. An ex-coworker is an ISP trooper, that comes from him. Hopefully this will be put to rest until '07.
 
In most states, amber lightbars are OK as long as they are used in the same manner as your four-way hazard lights, basically a supplement or extension to your hazards. In other words, if your vehicle requires 'extra care when approaching, overtaking or passing' as WV state law says. Using them to get other vehicles to yield to you is illegal in all states unless you are fire, police or EMS.

My only advice is that if you have lightbars or strobes, use them very sparingly - only when it is absolutely neccessary. Never when driving down the road or chasing storms. When in doubt, don't turn them on. I have these lights on my car, but it is very rare that I use them, even while chasing. There are rare times, though, when their use is well warranted - which is why I have them.

Examples of when I use my lights include situations like backing out of a farm road onto a 2-lane road with poor visibility, preparing to slow and pull over onto the shoulder with approaching traffic behind me, etc.
 
I appologize for starting this thread and rehashing a tired topic. I'm a new member and I obviously didn't search well enough before I posted.

And anyway, I don't think most cops would say anything if you used an amber light bar (in those states where it is illegal), unless other cars are pulling over for you.
 
And anyway, I don't think most cops would say anything if you used an amber light bar (in those states where it is illegal), unless other cars are pulling over for you.
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I can tell you from MANY years of experience that it is a non-issue for LEOs in at least a half a dozen states I have chased in Brett. That includes the two mentioned in this thread. And yes even *gasp* driving with them on in certain conditions.

In fact, the ONLY ones I have EVER encountered that had an issue with it was certain other chasers. I have only had favorable comments from law enforcement about them.

So as far as I am concerened.....light em if ya got em!

Over half the time people don't pull over for EMERGENCY vehicles with red/blue/white with sirens and airhorns. I know this from experience of being on a fire dept and driving various vehicles CODE 3. I still haven't figure out why some people think having AMBER lights flashing on a chase vehicle is going to give it some magical quality that most emergency vehicles don't possess to actually get people to pull over and get out of the way.

I am only deduce that either:

1) The other driver is being courteous and letting the CHASER past, because after all, who would you want leading the way around severe weather?

2) They are just idiots and probably pull over for construction vehicles and wide load escorts too.

As for trucks pulling over and letting the flashy chase vehicle past. I have had them do that for me MANY times. I hear them talking on the CB about it. They didn't mistake it for any emergency vehicle. They KNEW it was a chase vehicle and were being nice since they often slow down considerably in bad/windy weather. I think the last comment I heard them say on the radio that sticks in my mind, "I think we better let him out front, I bet he knows what we are about to get in to!"

Just my experiences anyway, your mileage may vary.
 
I finally got an amber light the other day. I'm not sure how I've survived all these years chasing without one. I will pull up behind someone and they won't have any choice but to get out of the way. Oh no, I will turn it on and blind them, causing them to crash off the road...out of my way! I feel so much safer having added this on.

amber.jpg
 
I finally got an amber light the other day. I'm not sure how I've survived all these years chasing without one. I will pull up behind someone and they won't have any choice but to get out of the way. Oh no, I will turn it on and blind them, causing them to crash off the road...out of my way! I feel so much safer having added this on.

amber.jpg

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I want to see the battery you have THAT plugged into!! :blink:
 
I finally got an amber light the other day. I'm not sure how I've survived all these years chasing without one. I will pull up behind someone and they won't have any choice but to get out of the way. Oh no, I will turn it on and blind them, causing them to crash off the road...out of my way! I feel so much safer having added this on.

amber.jpg

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Now that there's funny. I don't care who you are! :D
 
Now that there's funny. I don't care who you are! :D
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Damn straight, it's funny!

One thing that Mike never mentioned, was the two diesel generators he has on a trailer behind his car to power the bugger :lol:

John
VE4 JTH
 
I've never personally felt the need for extra warning lights on my vehicle, but to each their own. I've seen them used responsibly by some chasers, and abused by others. I suspect that the abusers are also the type that disregard other "rules of the road" and common courtesy anyways.. the lights are just another aspect of their attitude about things.
 
Well, I've never really looked it up under Alabama state law but the EMA has sanctioned me as emergency personnel so I am about to have an amber light bar installed. Maybe they will get me a vehicle and I can be completely decked out in chase gear then....oh wait....I forgot. I live in Alabama... :unsure:
 
Looks like one of those really old State Police cars with the one really big light on top.LOL
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you can thank Michigan State Patrol for those... The funny thing is, about 3 years ago, I saw a BRAND NEW crown vic that they had just recently put into service, but it still had the old gumball style light. You would think with all the high tech LED's and other stuff they'd update, but I guess tradition still means something in Michigan.
 
Yeah, except those old rotating sealed beam lights draw an ungodly amount of amps though. That was the real reason you never saw very many lights on emergency vehicles back in those days.
 
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