are emergency vehicles legally allowed to use their sirens to get though red traffic lights?

i live across the road from a police station and around the corner from a fire station and i am constantly hearing AND SEEING cop cars,ambulances and fire engines turning on their lights and sirens,cruising through a red light and then turning them off.....i would love to take their licence plates and car ID numbers and report them to their superiors......

26 Answers

  • wbfd22
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    I'm not sure about police vehicles, but I can give you some insight into the fire service.

    In my town every traffic light has a sensor on it. It senses when the fire trucks are in a hurry (sirens on) and changes so that the trucks have a green light and can continue without stopping. If it malfunctions, the trucks have to come to a stop, and look both ways before proceeding through the red light.

    If the sirens are turned off while the truck is on it's way to a scene, it may have been turned away (sent back to it's respective quarters), because the emergency was downgraded, or it is under control.

    I do know that ambulances have the same rules and regulations as the fire trucks do with regard to the red lights. They can proceed through after coming to a stop to check for traffic.

    You can call your local police station and find out what thier rules are, and if it seems they are breaking the rules, report them to the police supervisor. Every department has a set of SOP's (saftey operating procedures) they must follow. They may be in a rush to get to an emergency, but they cannot under any circumstances put others in danger trying to get there.

    Source(s): Volunteer Fire Fighter for 3 1/2 years
  • 1 decade ago

    Then do so, if it concerns you. As already said, emergency service vehicles are often sent towards an incident, and cancelled en route. Sirens are only used where necessary (in the UK anyway) and otherwise turned off. We'd also even turn off the blues on some occasions, especially when approaching the scene of a burglary for instance where offenders might still be on the premises. Ambulances often do that too, in order not to unduly disturb and alarm the neighbourhood.

    As a further example, when a fire alarm goes off at our hospital it is obligatory that three appliances attend whether actually needed or not. If the first on scene calls the others off, they will still attend, albeit with blues and twos turned off and at normal speed, until the officer in charge actually turns them away at the scene.

    If there are a few "bad apples" doing this just to get to their tea-break or whatever, reporting them is the best thing you can do. That behaviour weakens the whole idea of the emergency equipment

  • 4 years ago

    I think it may depend on the state. Where I'm from, it is legal to go through a red light, etc IF you are en route to a higher call, even if you don't use your lights/siren. As an example, you hear there is a Domestic Violence situation - the most dangerous situation for Law Enforcement to enter btw - and by broadcasting lights/sirens, the offender can take drastic measures (shoot the spouse, barricade, come out attacking, etc). It's safer to not announce yourself until ready. For Part 2 - Police still have to approach with caution in the event someone doesn't see them, regardless if they have lights and sirens. Steps such as slowing down at an intersection, flashing the lights briefly when going through the intersections, etc.

  • 1 decade ago


    There are times when you (general you) don't want police/firefighters/EMT's showing up with lights and sirens blaring. There are actually very few calls that are dispatched in which lights and sirens are even allowed. In most cases, they still need to get there quickly so turning lights/sirens on when going through an intersection is acceptable.

    That being said, you are always more than welcome to take down the plate numbers/car ID and report them. Just don't be too offended when they don't take you very seriously.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Call your local police non-emergency number and ask them, if you feel this is a problem that needs addressing. Personally, I'd do this anonymously. Tell them you've seen this happen and about how many times and what time of day, etc. You can also speak to the fire chief or police captain, if it's a big problem. Sometimes calls may get cancelled, so that could be one reason. If it's over and over again, I doubt most calls would be cancelled so quickly.

    Anytime they go through a red light they take the chance someone else isn't going to yield, and they'll be in an accident. I'd hate to think someone there is taking their responsibility so lightly.

    Where I live, they don't do that. Our police and fire dept. are wonderful and have helped my elderly parents multiple times. I hope what you've noticed is just some cancelled calls.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    There are times when you are responding to an emergency call and you get cancelled on the way by another unit who has arrived and they don't need any more assistance, so you turn off your emergency equipment.

    As for reporting them to their superiors, I'm afraid to say that no one is superior to me and I'm not superior to them, we have supervisors.

    As for the moan someone had about the u turns, If i see someone driving towards me who is committing an offence then I need to turn around safely to get after them, and as such I will put my emergency equipment on.

    Its safer for everyone and i would only do it if the offence I was going to stop was serious enough.

    If you feel that some are doing it to just get through a red light when they are not responding to an incident then please do report it as it makes the rest of look bad

    Source(s): UK police advanced driver
  • Huh?
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Yes, if they are running their sirens and responding to an emergency they are allowed to perform many normally illegal acts such as running red lights, going the wrong way round roundabouts, driving down the wrong side of the street, etc. They often turn their sirens off except when they're approaching potential hazards such as junctions so this may be what you're seeing. If they're not responding to an emergency they have to follow normal driving rules.

  • 1 decade ago

    Well. most of the time when a emergency car is in an emergency, it doesn't have its siren on (though it does have its lights on), they only seem to turn the siren on when people need to be alerted of there presents like at a junction or busy road. once the car has presided through the trickey zone they can turn it off (as far as i know).

    about the leagaility thing, someone told me that, the only 2 viechels that are alowed to speed leagaly are... the fire engine, and the royal mail post van. stupid i know. but i think its a law thats never been changed, i think it came from when the queen said that her post had to be on time, and if her palace started to burn down, she wanted the fireengines there quick. but because every one knows that ambulences or polices are allso emergency vichels the laws are disregarded (i think).

    if the police cars are speeding through the lights not in an emergency, then they can be prosicuted.

  • Ian UK
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    In short, yes. We can do so if there is a need to do so. We can also cross red traffic lights without using the lights and sirens if we want to and can justify doing so.

    I for one would not want to jeopardise my driving qualifications and job by doing so if I couldn't justify it. One of the reasons that I sometimes let offences that I witness go as I couldn't justify placing others at risk, for the sake of issuing a ticket for a traffic offence, by 'jumping' red lights in order to catch up with the relevant driver.

    Source(s): UK Copper. Emergency response driver
  • 1 decade ago

    I have an uncle who is a fire fighter and have asked a fire fighter this question before.They are not aloud to go through red lights but it is accepted as it is deemed necessary.

    However the emergency services only use the sirens when they need to when answering a call.So if they're speeding down an empty road they won't have their sirens going only their lights.

    Are you sure they're not just doing it because the lights are there?

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