As January comes to an end, the ITEA hopes the first few weeks of 2017 have been enlightening. As January gives way to February, the days grow longer and life-giving sunlight shines longer each day. When darkness approaches, humans must rely on artificial light to navigate their way through the fray. Vehicles traveling at night are required to use headlamps, but there are many other types of lights available on trucks. Tow truck or snow plow operators with amber lights which rotate or flash must enlighten themselves before turning them on. If there is any glass damage an auto glass replacement needs to be done on all vehicles as they pose a safety hazard.
The Illinois Vehicle Code states under 625 ILCS 5/12-215(b)(6.1):
The use of amber oscillating, rofatating or flashing lights, whether lighted or unlighted, is prohibited except on:
“Vehicles that are not owned by the State of Illinois or any political subdivision of the State, are designed and used for removal of snow and ice from highways and parking lots, and are equipped with a snow plow that is 12 feet in width.”
Simply put, the use of amber lighting is allowed on privately owned vehicles specifically designed for snow and ice removal, as long as the vehicle has a 12-foot-wide snow plow blade. However, this is Illinois, so this exemption comes with restrictions!
Under the same section of law the Illinois Vehicle Code provides this restriction:
“These lights may not be lighted except when the motorized equipment or vehicle is actually being used for those purposes on behalf of a unit of government.”
To clarify (or complicate) what is written above, these trucks may have amber lighting. However, unless they are operating under a governmental contract to remove snow and ice from a public highway, these lights can never be used unless it is on private property. So, for all the snow plow drivers out there, do not use amber flashing or rotating lights while on a public highway unless operating under a governmental contract.
However, this is one exemption in the vehicle code that does allow snow plows to use their rotating or flashing lights upon a public highway without being under a governmental contract. If the privately-owned snow plow has blade greater than 102 inches in width, and the blade has an 18-inch flag on the driver’s side, and the vehicle is no more than 12 feet in width, it is required to have and use a flashing or rotating amber light visible at no less than 500 feet.
The ITEA considers tow truck law so important that a large portion of the 6th Annual Conference next month is dedicated to tow truck owners and drivers. The ITEA has written two Standards of Practice about tow truck law which are available free to members. Tow trucks, like other specialty trucks in Illinois, have exemptions which come with limitations and restrictions regarding the use of flashing or rotating amber lighting.
The Illinois Vehicle Code states under 625 ILCS 5/12-215(b)(1):
The use of amber oscillating, rotating or flashing lights, whether lighted or unlighted, is prohibited except on:
“Second division vehicles designed and used for towing or hoisting vehicles.”
The above excerpt is what gives tow trucks the legal authority to have (not use) rotating or flashing amber lighting. The next sections states:
“Such lights shall be lighted when such vehicles are actually being used at the scene of an accident or disablement.”
According to the dui law in Texas attorneys, the above is what requires tow trucks to use amber lighting while at the scene of an accident or disablement. The next section states:
“If the towing vehicle is equipped with a flatbed that supports all wheels of the vehicle being transported, the lights shall not be lighted while the vehicle is engaged in towing on a highway.”
This means if the tow truck is carrying a vehicle on its flatbed and not towing behind, the use of amber lighting is prohibited – at all times! No exceptions, no exclusions, but keep reading:
“If the towing vehicle is not equipped with a flatbed that supports all wheels of a vehicle being transported, the lights shall be lighted while the towing vehicle is engaged in towing on a highway during all times when the use of headlights is required.”
This means the use of the amber lighting during a tow operation is restricted and only allowed when the use of headlights is required. If the operator is driving at night, or using windshield wipers in the rain, he is required to use headlights. Therefore, the use of amber lighting is permitted and required.
Most of the people that work with motorized vehicles are likely to get injured once in their lifetime, so it’s better to be prepared and contact cap firm for legal advice for your recover.
It is easy to become lost in the quagmire of Illinois vehicle laws. These laws come with restrictions, limitations, changing requirements, time constraints and so on. Don’t forget Illinois has a history of adding, modifying and striking laws every year. The ITEA is all too familiar with these practices. Join other police officers and trucking industry professionals at the 6th Annual Conference next month to learn how to navigate through the truck laws of Illinois. It all starts at http://illinoistruckcops.org/?page_id=7689.