Emergency identification lights – everything you need to know

Using emergency identification lights on an unregistered vehicle is a crime, and doing so can result in a fine or arrest.

Only registered vehicles may use identification lights.

The legal framework regarding identification lights and sirens is applicable to the vehicle and not to the person operating the vehicle.

For instance, should a designated official be using a different vehicle, they may not place the identification lights on said vehicle. Only registered vehicles may use lights.

Information from the SAPS state that the use of identification lights is regulated by Regulation 176 and Regulation 185 of the National Road Traffic Regulations, 2000.

A blue light may only be fitted on vehicles operated by:

  •  Members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) and Municipal Police Services.
  •  Traffic officers.
  •  Members of the SANDF Military Police.

The following identification lights, red, green and white, may be fitted on the following vehicles:

  •  Red lights are for ambulances, firefighting or rescue vehicles.
  •  Green lights are for disaster management vehicles.
  •  White lights are to be used by vehicles owned by registered security service providers and driven by a security officer.

Amber lights can be used on the following emergency vehicles:

  •  Employed in connection with the maintenance of public roads.
  •  Engaged in the distribution and supply of electricity.
  •  Engaged in the supply of essential public services.
  •  Operated in terms of the authority granted by the MEC in terms of section 81 of the Act.
  •  Breakdown vehicles.
  •  Refuse compactor vehicles.
  •  Vehicles carrying an abnormal load and the vehicles escorting them, if any.

A flashing orange light may only be used as follows:

  •  Where a breakdown has occurred.
  •  Where maintenance or other work, or an inspection is being carried out.
  •  When a breakdown vehicle is towing a motor vehicle, or in the event of a vehicle carrying an abnormal load.
  •  Vehicles other than emergency vehicles or vehicles authorised by the relevant MEC in a province, may not be fitted with an orange identification light.

Lieutenant Colonel Wilfred Kgasago, EMPD spokesperson, said green lights are reserved for disaster management, blue is strictly for SAPS, traffic and metro police, red is strictly for medical, fire and rescue and towing trucks use orange.

He said, security vehicles may not have flashing or strobe lights. “It needs to be a fixed burning white light. Sirens are illegal in any vehicle that is not registered as an emergency vehicle. This information is provided for in the National Road Traffic Act, 93 of 1996.”

“There are consequences for improper use of lights – it is a fine or arrest depending on who is using the emergency lights illegally and for what purpose,” said Lieutenant Colonel Kgasago.

Motorists are warned to desist from displaying blue or orange lights on their vehicles.

Motorist are also warned vehicles illegally fitted with blue or orange lights, will be suspended from use on any public road and the these lights will be removed before such vehicle can be certified as roadworthy again.

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