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Author Topic: Emergency flashers on coach?  (Read 4741 times)
ilyafish
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« on: December 22, 2008, 06:31:58 PM »

Was looking at different online videos and came across this



I was wondering how hard of a task would it be to have my lights do that?  I am still trying to find a reason but I am sure at some point it will come in handy!
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« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2008, 10:22:37 PM »

You just need a flasher and strobe lights of the type used on police and fire vehicles.  Check ebay.
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Tim Strommen
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« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2008, 10:59:29 PM »

I get my pretty flashing lights from this company: www.galls.com

I am not a paid endorser - nor do I care if you go there.  They have a fairly good selection, and the shipping-costs/prices are excellent.  ON my pickup, I have a few of these, and a few of these.

My only caution to you is to be careful which colors you pick and when you use them - in California you can only use white or amber lights and even then you may only turn them on to indicate an "Unusual Traffic Hazard".  I've had them on my truck for about a year now, and never turned them on (I find that hazard lights get the job done most of the time).  The kids with the big stereos use them for car shows and get tickets for using them while in motion out here...

-Tim
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« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2008, 07:45:00 AM »

... in California you can only use white or amber lights and even then you may only turn them on to indicate an "Unusual Traffic Hazard".


I beg to differ with you.  The CVC prohibits flashing lights of any color on most vehicles, with the exception of turn signals (which may be used as "hazard" lights when appropriate) and certain other specific lights such as "deceleration" lights.

There is a long list of exceptions for amber lights, to include certificated public utilities (power, water, phone companies, etc.), garbage trucks (whether municipally owned or private), vehicles engaged in road construction, etc..  If your vehicle does not fit into one of these exempted categories, you can be stopped and cited just for having them -- they don't even need to be on.

Red or white flashing lights are strictly reserved for emergency vehicles, as those are defined in the code.  In California, the only privately owned (as opposed to state, county, city, or federally owned) emergency vehicles must be fully marked and it's a short list:  private ambulances, fire apparatus belonging to companies required to have such (chemical plants, refineries, etc.), and police cars belonging to Stanford University (long story).  Every private emergency vehicle requires explicit permission from the commissioner of the California Highway Patrol.

Blue lights of any sort, flashing or not, are restricted to use by sworn peace officers, again as that term is defined in the code.

Many other states have similar laws regarding flashing lights, but each state has different specifics.  FWIW, even the president's limousine (and all the secret service escorts) needs to be modified when it comes to California.

-Sean
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« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2008, 09:56:20 AM »

Sean,

Thanks for the info. I had no idea that California had such regs. That is too bad. It just shows how much they have regulated everything.

Merry Christmas,

God bless,

John
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« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2008, 10:18:35 AM »

Sean know what's he's talking about. They found lights I had mounted underneith that we're visable at all unless on during the night. They did an inspection and found these lights. I had to remove lenses, then the lights themselves and cut wires before they allowed me to carry on. All that was left was the mounts.
They also gave me a ticket.

Have Fun
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« Reply #6 on: December 23, 2008, 10:38:38 AM »

So now what exactly would be the purpose of the flashing lights on that prevost in the video link posted?
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« Reply #7 on: December 23, 2008, 11:34:58 AM »

Not a clue how they get away with white to the rear down that low....  In Alaska many transport, dot, etc. have white flashing strobes on to due the limited visibility in such lovelies as icefog and snow storms.  I'd bet if you don't see it on tractor-trailers on the highway, it's not legal. =)

I'd opt for some red/yellow up high on the rear cap, but not strobes.  IMHO
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« Reply #8 on: December 23, 2008, 08:45:50 PM »

That bus in the video has the flashing lights for the bling.

No useful purpose, and as noted, attract all kinds of the wrong attention.

Adding some higher mounted duplicates of your brake and turn signals has its benefits for the following traffic to see your intentions.

happy coaching!
buswarrior
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Tim Strommen
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« Reply #9 on: December 23, 2008, 10:36:30 PM »

... in California you can only use white or amber lights and even then you may only turn them on to indicate an "Unusual Traffic Hazard".
I beg to differ with you.  The CVC prohibits flashing lights of any color on most vehicles...

To the contrary - I think you made my point, just better.  And for the record my POV qualifies... (utility).  The comment about the "unusual hazard" is simply a general statement in the CVC - meant to indicate that they will give you a good sized ticket if you "just have them on for fun"...

Bottom line is, unless you have a real need (by "need" I define: "your bus also serves as an emergency response mobile operation center for your city/county"), you shouldn't have them at all.

-Tim
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« Reply #10 on: December 24, 2008, 06:14:49 AM »

To the contrary - I think you made my point, just better.  And for the record my POV qualifies... (utility).  The comment about the "unusual hazard" is simply a general statement in the CVC - meant to indicate that they will give you a good sized ticket if you "just have them on for fun"...


Tim,

You need to read deeper into the code.  If you personally own that truck, it does not meet the code.  The vehicle must be owned and operated by a public utility.  Just as peace officers, in California, can not put flashing lights on their personal vehicles, even though many other states allow that.  To have lights, a police car must be owned (or leased) by the municipality.

Back when I was working police motors, I worked with guys from a couple departments that did "lease-backs."  The department gave the officer a credit for his motor, and then he went out and purchased it personally.  This was back in the mostly-Kawi days, and the credit was based on the fleet price for a KZ1000-P, but several of the guys ponied up the extra cash for Harleys.

The guys then had to title the motors with themselves as the "legal" owner (where the bank's name usually goes) and the city as the "registered" owner before the city could insure the bike and put the gear on it.  At the end of the leaseback, all the lights and sirens had to come back off.

The code is very, very clear.  NO flashing lights except as specifically authorized:

25250.  Flashing lights are prohibited on vehicles except as otherwise permitted.

Several other sections go on to define certain permitted uses:

25252    Warning Lamps on Authorized Emergency Vehicles
25252.5    Flashing Headlamps on Authorized Emergency Vehicles
25253    Warning Lamps on Tow Trucks
25253.1    Warning Lamps: Dismantler's Tow Vehicle
25254    Warning Lights on Vehicles Operated by Personnel of Marshal's Department
25256    Warning Lights on Highway Maintenance Vehicles
25257    Schoolbus Warning Signal System
25257.2    Flashing Lights: Schoolbuses Transporting Disabled
25257.5    Flashing Lights: Schoolbuses
25257.7    Schoolbuses: Additional Lights
25258    Authorized Emergency Vehicles: Additional Lights
25259    Additional Warning Lights on Authorized Emergency Vehicles
25259.1    Disaster Service Workers: Flashing Amber Warning Lights
25259.5    Warning Lights on Red Cross Vehicles
25260    Warning Lights on Public Utility Vehicles
25260.1    Warning Lights on Utility Vehicles
25260.3    Warning Lights on Personnel Aerial Lift Vehicle
25260.4    Warning Lamps: Hazardous Substance Spill Response Vehicle
25261    Warning Lights on County Vehicles
25262    Armored Cars
25263    Warning Lights on House Towing Vehicles
25264    Warning Lights on Coroner Vehicles
25265    Warning Lights on Sanitation District Repair Vehicles
25266    Warning Lights on Levee Maintenance Vehicles
25267    Warning Lights on Pest Abatement Vehicles


Finally,

25268.  No person shall display a flashing amber warning light on a vehicle as permitted by this code except when an unusual traffic hazard exists.

specifies that the light can be used only when an unusual traffic hazard exists, but makes clear that the light must first be on a vehicle as permitted by this code.  See above for vehicles permitted by the code...

-Sean
http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com
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« Reply #11 on: December 24, 2008, 07:51:18 AM »

Some years ago, I was in California broke down on the 5 and parked well off the breakdown lane on the grass.  A CHP officer asked me to turn off the hazard lights. He said they cause more problems by having them on unless you are actually in a position to be a hazard to traffic.

I've considered that good advice ever since and don't use them if I can get completely off the road.
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« Reply #12 on: December 24, 2008, 10:15:51 AM »


Some years ago, I was in California broke down on the 5 and parked well off the breakdown lane on the grass.  A CHP officer asked me to turn off the hazard lights. He said they cause more problems by having them on unless you are actually in a position to be a hazard to traffic.



This is very true.  Ask any highway patrol officer - most will tell you that drunk drivers tend to "zone in" on flashing lights, and will often run right into the back of a vehicle that has them on - especially at night!

Locally, our transit bus operators are trained to use the 4-way flashers only when they have to stop in the lane of traffic for a signed bus stop.  Otherwise, "If you are out of the traffic lane sufficiently that you can park the bus legally and walk away from it, use your turn signals for pulling over and pulling out - do not use the 4-ways while stopped." - from the operator's training manual, which I wrote.

Miss those days. . .

FWIW, HTH & Merry Christmas!

 Wink
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« Reply #13 on: December 24, 2008, 03:31:36 PM »

I was under the impression that Hazard flashers are for use only when moving slow?

How many times have you seen a car parked along the highway with the hazard blinkers just barely  visible because the battery was slowly dying?

I never turn on any lights when parked either close to or far from the highway simply to keep anyone from hitting my vehicle rear.

I am convinced that some drivers head right for tail lights, blinking or not, in poor visibility conditions.

When I lived in Puerto Rico the local custom was to turn on hazard blinkers every time it rained. It looked like the whole world was blinking!! Never saw that happen anywhere else in the world I had ever been?
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« Reply #14 on: December 24, 2008, 06:03:11 PM »

My coach came with white Whelen strobes on the front bumper , surface mount and red strobes built in to the rear brake lights. I do use them on some of the tight twisty backroads near my home where I can't keep the bus in one lane on the tight curves with no shoulder and am forced  to hog the entire road . I can't see LE frowning on the brief use in the name of safety. These roads were cut through earth/rock , so approaching traffic cant see my height until they are facing me head on because I am in their lane.  I alert with the air horn and activate the strobes prior to entering these curves.
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« Reply #15 on: December 25, 2008, 03:50:41 AM »

Since all cars come eqipped with 4 way flashers, I wonder what the actual law is regarding when to use them?  I imagine this will vary state by state.  Jack
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« Reply #16 on: December 25, 2008, 05:45:24 AM »

Since all cars come eqipped with 4 way flashers, I wonder what the actual law is regarding when to use them?  I imagine this will vary state by state.  Jack


Jack,

They do, indeed, vary by state.  As Gus suggested, in some states, they are to be used when a vehicle is moving slowly on a highway.  Since we were talking about California, here is the relevant code:

25251.  (a) Flashing lights are permitted on vehicles as follows:

...

(2) When disabled or parked off the roadway but within 10 feet of the roadway, or when approaching, stopped at, or departing from, a railroad grade crossing, turn signal lamps may be flashed as warning lights if the front turn signal lamps at each side are being flashed simultaneously and the rear turn signal lamps at each side are being flashed simultaneously.

(3) To warn other motorists of accidents or hazards on a roadway, turn signal lamps may be flashed as warning lights while the vehicle is approaching, overtaking, or passing the accident or hazard on the roadway if the front turn signal lamps at each side are being flashed simultaneously and the rear turn signal lamps at each side are being flashed simultaneously.

...

(5) To warn other motorists of a funeral procession, turn signal lamps may be flashed as warning lights on all vehicles actually engaged in a funeral procession, if the front turn signal lamps at each side are being flashed simultaneously and the rear turn signal lamps at each side are being flashed simultaneously.

(b) Turn signal lamps shall be flashed as warning lights whenever a vehicle is disabled upon the roadway and the vehicle is equipped with a device to automatically activate the front turn signal lamps at each side to flash simultaneously and the rear turn signal lamps at each side to flash simultaneously, if the device and the turn signal lamps were not rendered inoperative by the event which caused the vehicle to be disabled.

...


Note that, per the above, California does not permit hazard lamps to be used on slow moving vehicles, or generally at any time on a moving vehicle except when crossing railroad tracks, passing accidents, or in a funeral procession.  They are required to be used, however, when disabled in a traffic lane -- the law does not give a hoot about your battery -- unless whatever disabled the vehicle also disabled the hazards.

-Sean
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« Reply #17 on: December 25, 2008, 06:15:01 AM »

(3) To warn other motorists of accidents or hazards on a roadway,

I wonder if a bus going up a grade at 15-20 MPH when cars are going up the grade at 60-65 MPH would be considered a hazard on the roadway?  Jack
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« Reply #18 on: December 25, 2008, 06:43:23 AM »

I suppose you could make that argument.  But you'd need to appear in court to do so.

That said, I see it all the time, and I've never seen anyone pulled over for running with their four-ways on for any reason.  Cops have better things to do.

Having strobes on a vehicle not authorized for them, which is where this thread started, is a different matter.  You can, and likely will, get pulled over for it, and, depending on the cop's mood, you can get an infraction citation or even a criminal one ("impersonating" -- don't laugh, it's happened).

Again, this is all state by state.  I know some people would like more consistency, but it just isn't so.  If you drive through Texas with a shotgun in a rack visible through your pickup truck window, and get stopped, the cop might ask if it's loaded.  Drive that way through New Jersey, and you'll be spread-eagled on the ground before you know what hit you.

-Sean
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« Reply #19 on: December 26, 2008, 11:06:53 AM »

As with many things, bending the law a little may not get you in trouble and may prevent an accident.  I agree with Dirtbag, that judicious use of strobes in true hazard situations is unlikely to get you a ticket even though strobes violate the vehicle code.  I have amber strobes mounted on the roof at the rear of my bus, which I use while climbing mountain grades.  We frequently traverse the Sherwin grade between Bishop and Mammoth CA, where we have 8 miles of 6% climb.  In my bus, while towing my car, this hill brings me down to the mid 30 mph range by the time I get to the top.  With lots of gonzo snowboarders traveling the same route at 70 plus, I want to be seen.  Ditto for when I'm stopped on the hill putting on the snow chains, even though I am on the shoulder.  This stretch of road is heavily patrolled by CHP, especially at the chain-up sites, and no one has ever said a thing about my lights.  I put the lights up there after I came across a motorhome obliterated to behind the front axle when it smashed into a slow moving big rig on a steep grade near Palm Springs.  I'm not advocating lawlessness, but for me, the risk of a ticket is worth the added (again, my view) safety.

--Bryan
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« Reply #20 on: December 26, 2008, 11:48:50 AM »

Bryan,

I would be interested in seeing pics of your bus. Particularly the strobes, or light bar, that you have.

God bless,

John
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« Reply #21 on: December 26, 2008, 12:14:05 PM »

I fail to see the need for strobes.  The standard flashers can be bright enough to warn off traffic.  One could easily put extras higher up and thereby have double the amount of lights flashing.  In reading the code posted above, the big concern is that the lights flash simultaneously; they do not want everyone deciding that their vehicle could be duplicating emergency vehicles.  I would think that part of the logic is that the more people did such a thing, the less likely it would be that motorists could distinguish between emergency vehicles and a guy that just loves putting on a light show.

I see trucks climbing grades all the time with their flashers on.  If the CHP was ticketing for it, I suspect I would not see it at all.  If one were in doubt about whether they should do it also, contact the CHP and get the opinion of someone with a name.  Although the CHP does have a somewhat odd reputation among many other agencies, for the most part they probably mean well.
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« Reply #22 on: December 26, 2008, 01:13:41 PM »

Hi all
I can't speak of California, but I remember PA had signs posted requiring the use of flashers under 45mph.( on grades) This was years ago, it may have changed. Smiley Mitch


PS. The speed limit was 55 back then. Smiley
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ilyafish
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« Reply #23 on: December 26, 2008, 02:35:30 PM »

I personally recall this past September numerous states throughout that had signs posted that require hazards to be on if you are going 45mph or less
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« Reply #24 on: December 27, 2008, 08:15:43 PM »

Hi all
I can't speak of California, but I remember PA had signs posted requiring the use of flashers under 45mph.( on grades) This was years ago, it may have changed. Smiley Mitch


PS. The speed limit was 55 back then. Smiley

Mitch,

I believe you are correct about that. I travel from South-Western PA to DC/Baltimore several times a month to work and visit friends and associates. The trips take me through the Alleghenies and Appalachia, and usually I take Rt 70 (PA Turnpike through Breezewood). But I've also taken 40/68 (National Road) via MD/WV, and Routs 30/31 (Real fun if you like going slow...then very fast..then slow...then slower..then very very fast!<Sigh....>). Tri-Axle truckers make the journey even MORE interesting...I'll be nice and leave it at that... okay one comment:

I thought there was a reading test for the CDL. Something about pulling over at the top of the mountain, check brakes, descend in low gear at no greater than 15 mph, use flashers. Runaway ramp at the bottom of the hill. Yada yada yada..  But maybe it's only a memory test...because.....

Well, despite hundreds of trips in/on various vehicles from motorcycles to breaking-down U-Hauls (I plead the 5th!); I cannot for the life of me remember which mile-markers the signage is at. I will be going back to Baltimore twice early next month. I'll keep an eye out.

Doug
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