Henderson, Ky 3/3/21- As I was driving through Henderson this evening on Green Street, I noticed flashing red lights approaching my vehicle from the rear. I didn’t hear a siren but the vehicle was still at a distance so I figured it was a fire truck responding to a call and I just couldn’t hear the sirens yet. As this truck approached, I began looking for somewhere to pull over safely to allow them to pass.
Once I had my truck pulled to a parking lot I noticed I still couldn’t hear a siren. With darkness approaching, all I could really see was that the vehicle approaching was a truck with flashing red lights. My next thought was, maybe its an ambulance running “lights only” due to a patient’s needs.
Much to my surprise, once it passed, I realized it was a wrecker service towing a vehicle. No I’m not going to name the wrecker service as this is not a story written to bash wrecker drivers nor is it intended to point out or bash a certain towing business operating in Henderson. This story is mainly to educate the public AND some businesses on the Kentucky Revised Statutes that are law and why they are law for a reason. I have many friends who work and operate wrecker services and I know first hand how hard their jobs are and how quickly they have to ‘make it happen’ in some cases. Luckily none of the ones I know personally, use the wrong colored lights on their wreckers.
Red and blue lights (to the front of a vehicle) are for emergency vehicles. Yellow lights (to the front of a vehicle) are for public safety vehicles.
What’s the difference you ask?? Below I have listed the definitions as given in KRS 189 of the Kentucky Revised Statutes.
KRS 189.910 (1) Definitions of an EMERGENCY VEHICLE
As used in KRS 189.920 to 189.950, “emergency vehicle” means any vehicle used for emergency purposes by:
(a) The Department of Kentucky State Police;
(b) A public police department;
(c) The Department of Corrections;
(d) A sheriff’s office;
(e) A rescue squad;
(f) An emergency management agency if it is a publicly owned vehicle;
(g) An ambulance service, mobile integrated healthcare program, or medical first response provider licensed by the Kentucky Board of Emergency Medical Services, for any vehicle used to respond to emergencies or to transport a patient with a critical medical condition;
(h) Any vehicle commandeered by a police officer;
(i) Any vehicle with the emergency lights required under KRS 189.920 used by a paid or volunteer fireman or paid or volunteer ambulance personnel, or a paid or local emergency management director while responding to an emergency or to a location where an emergency vehicle is on emergency call;
(j) An elected coroner granted permission to equip a publicly or privately owned motor vehicle with lights and siren pursuant to KRS 189.920;
(k) A deputy coroner granted permission to equip a publicly or privately owned motor vehicle with lights and siren pursuant to KRS 189.920; or
(l) A conservation officer of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife
KRS 189.910 (2) Definitions of a PUBLIC SAFETY VEHICLE
As used in KRS 189.920 to 189.950, “public safety vehicle” means any vehicle used for:
- public utility repair vehicle;
- state, county, or municipal service vehicles and equipment;
- highway equipment which performs work that requires stopping and standing or moving at slow speeds within the traveled portions of highways;
- vehicles which are escorting wide-load or slow-moving trailers or trucks.
Now that we understand what defines an emergency vehicle vs. a public safety vehicle, we can understand the KRS which says which types can use which colored lights listed in KRS 189.920.
“All fire department, rescue squad, or publicly owned emergency management agency emergency vehicles and all ambulances shall be equipped with one (1) or more flashing, rotating, or oscillating red lights, visible under normal atmospheric conditions from a distance of five hundred (500) feet to the front of the vehicle, and a siren, whistle, or bell, capable of emitting a sound audible under normal conditions from a distance of not less than five hundred (500) feet. This equipment shall be in addition to any other equipment required by the motor vehicle laws.“KRS 189.920 (1)
All public safety vehicles shall be equipped with one (1) or more flashing, rotating, or oscillating yellow lights, visible under normal atmospheric conditions from a distance of five hundred (500) feet to the front of the vehicle. Yellow flashing, rotating, or oscillating lights may also be used by vehicles operated by mail carriers while on duty, funeral escort vehicles, and church buses.KRS 189.920 (4)
Lets leave the colors that represent emergency responders to the emergency responders. These colors are covered by the law because of circumstances like this one. They are meant to tell people there is an emergency and someone needs help quickly.
Again, this is not to throw punches at any wrecker service or any wrecker drivers but only to educate. This also goes for anyone putting lights on their personal vehicles. You can NOT put a red and/or blue light pointing to the front of your vehicle if you are not involved with emergency agencies or public safety vehicles.
This has been a public service announcement..
For more information regarding the Kentucky Revised Statutes listed in this story, please click the button below.