Senate approves Zorn’s emergency vehicle lights reform

Sen. Dale Zorn

Sen. Dale Zorn

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Thursday approved Sen. Dale Zorn’s legislation to allow the use of corner flashing lights on emergency vehicles as an option to rotating or oscillating lights attached to the roof.

Modern ambulance and rescue vehicles can have blind spots when rotating lights are attached to the roof. For decades, these vehicles have been using corner lights that meet the state’s visual requirements but their use has not been codified in state statue.

“This is about allowing local governments to use the improved lighting systems that are in use on many of today’s new emergency vehicles,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “As a result, this reform could help improve public safety and reduce the cost of replacing aging vehicles.”

Senate Bill 46 would eliminate the current Michigan requirement that flashing, rotating or oscillating lights on emergency vehicles be mounted on the roof of the vehicles.

The bill would allow corner lights to be used on ambulance and rescue vehicles as long as the lights meet the requirements of being visible 500 feet away and from 360 degrees around the vehicle. Roof-mounted rotating lights may continue to be used as long as the requirements are met.

“After years of innovation, the traditional rotating light bar attached to the roof of an emergency vehicle may not be the safest or most cost-effective option,” Zorn said. “On many modern rescue and emergency vehicles, the flashing lights are mounted on the corners of the vehicle rather than the roof. These lights are often brighter than traditional roof-mounted lights and meet the state’s visibility requirements.”

SB 46 has been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.