Who Regulates Tow Truck Lighting?

We asked the question: Who Regulates Tow Truck Lighting? The answer is... depends on your state.

With the adoption of the “Slow-Down, Move-Over” laws now implemented in all 50 states in the US, there is a continued effort of state and local officials to take more recommendations to our legislative bodies in Washington D.C.

According to the Centralia,Wa. Chronical, a bill sponsored by the 19th district state Sen. Jeff Wilson, R of Longview, WA, to increase traffic safety for roadside emergency workers was passed by a vote of 49-0 out of the Senate on February 22, 2023.

The bill would allow tow-truck operators to use highly visible rear-facing blue flashing lights when they reach roadside emergency zones. “When it comes to blue lights- I ask that we all see the light for safety”, Wilson said on the Senate floor on Wednesday.

The Chronical continued with Wilson saying “SB 5023 recognizes tow truck operators have one of the most dangerous jobs in the country”. Wilson also released after the bill's passage this statement,” tow truck operators have a death rate 15 times higher than the national average, based on data from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health”.

The Senator went on to say, “passage of this bill in the Senate today sends a strong message that safety on our roadways is a priority for Olympia, and that we need to respect the ‘everyday heroes’ who work within inches of speeding traffic . These first responders risk their lives every day”.

Tow Time magazine writes that one of the most regulated parts of a tow truck is the lights. They say some states require certain colors, or certain light patterns for tow trucks specifically. However that isn’t the case everywhere. Tow Times offered these more common findings.

Common Tow Truck Lights Regulations

Tow Truck Light Color

Many states require a certain color for the lights on tow trucks. More often than not, the color is amber, but some states require yellow or even red.

Tow Truck Light Brightness

The light also needs to be bright enough to be noticed but not so bright that it blinds or distracts other drivers. Each state has its own specific brightness requirements so make sure to check that before you go out on the road.

Tow Truck Flash Pattern

The flash pattern of the lights on your tow truck may also be regulated. They may ask you to have a strobe pattern, a rotating pattern, or a steady-burning light.

Tow Truck Light Bar

Most tow trucks must also have a high-intensity light bar to warn people that they are there and to ensure they are visible to oncoming traffic.

Rear Lighting

Most states will require you to have some form of rear lighting so other motorists can see you when they’re driving behind you. This may mean you need to have lights that you’re able to put on the vehicle that you’re towing behind your tow truck.

If you’re worried about getting the right lights for your tow truck or wrecker, here are a few organizations you can contact:

• Your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles: Checking the state regulations on tow truck lighting is the first place you’ll want to look.

• Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCA): This agency regulates what lights can be used on tow trucks that are already in service. fmcsa.dot.gov

• Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS): This agency regulates the lighting requirements on a tow truck when it’s originally built. The NHYSA (see below) issues the FMVSS.

• National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA): This agency governs and regulates new tow trucks and the original and replacement lights on those vehicles.http://nhtsa.gov

Towing and Recovery Association of America Inc. (TRAA) Legislative Action Workshop & Hill Day is the industry’s only national hill day. This year’s March 7-9, 2023 workshop is unfortunately full and not taking any new registrations. We will follow the latest and greatest legislative proposals and updates released from this year’s National Hill Day here on TowAdz.com blog.