The use of particular colours for emergency lighting is part practicality and part culture, and varies from country to country.

medium_6839468682Colours and uses of emergency lighting in the UK

Blue – Emergency vehicles

Blue is the predominant colour for emergency vehicles in the UK and Europe. Blue is easy to see from a distance, especially in the dark.

  • Flashing Blue
    • Fire Engines
    • Ambulances
    • Police vehicles
    • Emergency vehicles including HM Coastguard, Forestry Commission and even HM Revenue and Customs in certain cases
  • Static Blue
    • Police vehicles


Amber – Warning Lights

Amber is traditionally associated with danger, and is therefore used as warning lights on vehicles and also on the roadside. Unlike blue lights, amber lights offer no priority in traffic, and are simply used to create awareness of the vehicle’s presence.

  • Flashing Amber
    • Road clearance vehicles
    • Rubbish collection vehicles
    • Breakdown vehicles and tow trucks
    • Vehicles with a maximum speed of 25 mph
    • Abnormal load vehicles
    • Escort vehicles for abnormal load vehicles
  • Static Amber
    • Road clearance vehicles
    • Vehicles transporting hazardous substances


White – Flashing headlights are permitted on emergency vehicles

Flashing lights on emergency vehicles can only flash between 1 and 4 times per second and must spend an equal amount of time on and off.


Green – Doctors vehicles

Like amber lights, green lights afford the vehicle no special priority, and the driver is expected to adhere to all current traffic rules such as speed limits and traffic lights.


Red is associated with danger. It is not used by emergency services in the UK or Europe, but is widely used by emergency services in the US and some other countries.

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