PA 01-192-sHB 6285
Public Safety Committee
Transportation Committee
Public Health Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING THE USE OF FLASHING WHITE HEAD LAMPS, FAILURE TO YIELD TO EMERGENCY VEHICLES, AND DUTY TO STOP FOR STOPPED SCHOOL BUSSES

SUMMARY: This act allows any vehicle operated by a volunteer emergency medical technician or member of a volunteer fire department or company to use flashing white headlamps on the way to a medical emergency or fire scene. The vehicle operator must get written authorization from the town's chief law enforcement officer and may use the headlamps only in the town or "from a personal residence or place of employment" if located in an adjoining town. The authorization may be revoked for violation.
The act increases, from $50 to $200, the maximum fine for willfully or negligently obstructing or impeding an emergency vehicle responding to an emergency. (The possible prison term, which the act does not change, is a maximum of seven days.) The act allows a police officer to issue a written warning or summons to a vehicle owner when he gets a signed affidavit about a violation from an emergency vehicle operator. The affidavit must state the (1) vehicle's license plate number, color, and type and (2) date, approximate time, and place where the violation occurred. The provision applies to ambulance or emergency medical service organization vehicles responding to emergency calls or taking a patient to a hospital; fire department vehicles responding to a fire or emergency; and police vehicles responding to an emergency or pursuing fleeing suspects.
The act also expressly requires emergency vehicles to stop at least 10 feet from a school bus displaying flashing red signal lights and to remain there until the lights are turned off. The provision applies to fire department and police vehicles, public service company or municipal department ambulances, or emergency vehicles designated or authorized by the motor vehicles commissioner. The act also makes technical changes.
EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2001

BACKGROUND

Use of Flashing Head Lamps

By law, the following may use flashing white headlamps on their way to an emergency: (1) local fire marshals and local emergency management directors and (2) ambulances and vehicles being operated by the chief executive officer of an emergency medical service organization. Every January, the chief executive of these organizations must provide the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) commissioner with his name and address and the registration number plates of vehicles that will use flashing white headlamps.

Flashing Lights

Another law, which this act does not change, generally prohibits flashing lights on vehicles other than school buses, except to indicate a turn and, in certain designated colors, on:

The law also allows motorists to use flashing lights in certain contexts where they are traveling slowly or disabled and stopped in areas that can create a hazard.