Is It Really Legal To Install a Yellow Flashing Light on Your Truck’s Roof?

The lights you can legally install on the roof of your pickup trucks depend on the laws in your state. That said, laws around flashing yellow lights are much more permissive than laws governing red and blue lights. This is why you see yellow warning lights on many civilian vehicles, such as plow trucks and tow trucks.

Are emergency lights federally regulated?

There is actually no federal law regulating emergency lights. Each state gets to make its own guidelines for police, fire trucks, and civilians to interpret. This is why in some states, police use blue lights while in other states, police use red.

Two pickup trucks driving down the street with yellow lights on their roofs.
Plow truck with yellow rooftop lights | Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

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Because emergency lighting is not federally regulated, there is no one country-wide answer to whether you can install a yellow flashing light on your truck’s roof. For this reason, you will need to check your local state guidelines.

It is also a good idea to know what color lights police, fire, and other emergency service vehicles run in your home state and neighboring states. Check out our state-by-state emergency light guide.

How do yellow light laws differ by state?

Emergency light laws are different in every state, and yellow lights have the greatest range of laws. Some states have no rules regulating the use of a flashing yellow or amber light. Other states prohibit even solid yellow lights, let alone flashing units.

Plow truck with yellow rooftop lights | Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

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According to Extreme Tactical Dynamics, state emergency lighting rules only apply to public roads: a security officer on a private estate could use any color lights they want. But on public roads, you must follow local guidelines.

Some states, such as Ohio, allow civilians to use flashing amber-colored lights while parked but not while driving. This allows construction and utility companies to use flashing lights to help motorists spot their vehicles, while avoiding being confused for an emergency services vehicle.

Other states, such as California, prohibit the use of any rooftop lights. In an effort to prevent anyone from mistaking a non-emergency vehicle with a police officer or other official vehicle, California bans even yellow/amber lights. This includes non-blinking lights on the roof of any regular-sized vehicle.

California does make an exception for oversized vehicles such as semi trucks. But automakers that offer yellow marker lights on pickup truck roofs actually can’t sell that option in California.

Do you want a flashing yellow light on your truck?

If its legal to have a flashing yellow light on your pickup truck, it could be a great way to increase the visibility of your vehicle. Whether or not you want to go to the effort of installing one depends on how you use your truck.

Two plow trucks driiving down the street with yellow rooftop lights.
Plow truck with yellow rooftop lights | Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

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Do you have a business plowing people’s driveways, before the sun comes up and during storms? Increasing your truck’s visibility might just prevent a crash.

Do you use your truck off-road, around other pieces of equipment? Again, being able to flip on a flashing yellow light might be an important safety feature.

If wiring a yellow light to your roof sounds like a hassle, you can also look into a temporary, magnetic light. As modern flashing LEDs get smaller, some companies even sell light bars that mount against your windshield.

Next, read about the legality of non-blinking yellow marker lights or see the best flashing yellow lights available in the video below:

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