Blue Lights and Police Cars - Southern States?

I just moved to Tennessee, and I noticed that Nashville police use only blue lights. Is there any rhyme or reason to whether departments use blues exclusively, or a combinations of reds and blues?

In the Midwest, every car I’ve seen uses reds and blues. Fire departments and ambulances use red lights only. Volunteer firefighters use blue lights. Are blue lights on police cars just a Southern U.S. thing?

In my Mississippi town (Natchez), the city police officers use exclusively blue lights while the sheriff (county law enforcement) uses reds and blues.

I’ve noticed the same sort of division in Kentucky, with the addition of the Kentucky State Police using all-blue as they have for a long time.

Texas checking in.

Both our local police and county sheriffs use red and blue lights. Fire trucks and volunteers use white/red.

It’s probably a preference thing, although I suppose it could be coded in the state law, county/city codes, or what have you.

I think in all new england states we use blue lights for cops and red for fire/ambulance. I hate driving in states that use red for cops I’m alway confused when the fire chief follows me when I pull to the side to let him pass. The tickets clear up the confusion

Over here in Jonesville, La (Less than an hour from Natchez), we use blue and white lights exclusively, This leads me to believe that light colors are either handed down at a state or county level.

I think it’s a state/province preference. In Ontario, emergency (police, ambulance, and fire) use flashing red and white lights. Flashing blue lights are exclusive to snow-removal vehicles.

Dunno if PA qualifies as new england, but here-all blue is for volunteer FF and EMS responding POVs. Blue/red is PD. All red is FD, ambos, and officers of both.

I was surprised to see blue on tow trucks in New Mexico.

It doesn’t.

NY, also not in New England, has red and blue for police - I’ve seen that in most places I’ve gone in the state, though I can’t definately vouch for the whole of the state. Not sure what EMS/Fire people light up with.

Metro Cleveland, police use red and blue (and white strobes).

They may have changed since I left, but in Southeast Michigan, when I lived there, a lot of police departments used only blue from the mid-60s on, while a few departments used red and blue (with some white). State police used only a single red gumball machine* while municipalities used a pair of gumball machines, later replaced by light bars. For a number of years, Detroit police used a single blue gumball light while the Tactical Moblile Units (S.W.A.T. lite) (that later had their name changed from TMU to something else) used a pair of gumball machines–one red, one blue. I’m sure that Detroit police are using lightbars, now, but I haven’t been stopped when traveling home to visit family, so I do not recall whether they are still all blue.

When did the volunteer firefighters switch to blue in the Northeast? I don’t recall seeing that in any of my trips out that way–although it has been more than ten years since I’ve had the chance to visit.

  • From the resemblance of the light housing to a coin-operated gumball dispenser near the front of stores.

North Carolina:
Police use blue
Fire/Ambulances use red/white
Mall Security use green

Alabama: same as North Carolina. I like the blue. Alternating red and blue makes my eyes hurt and is more distracting.

It’s generally regulated at the state level. Here in CO, there’s no standardization. The ambulance I’m sitting in right nowhas red, white, blue, and yellow lights (yellow just on the back). There’s really no general standard. Some fire departments have red, some red & white, and so on.

St. Urho

In New York City, the coppers use red and blue, fire and EMS use red, and utility vehicles (power company, etc.) use yellow.

I’ve never seen green flashing lights. That would totally, like, freak me out, man.

I’ve seen purple lights (Roads and Traffic Authority - no powers of arrest, and AFAIK not allowed to break road rules responding to incidents, so I think they’re not allowed to use red and/or blue - but they can be in dangerous situations, and they do have some authority to issue fines etc, so they’re a cut above the ice cream man with his yellow lights).

Of course, this has no immediate bearing on the goings on in the US South, but we have purple lights, man! Like, far out.

I’ve lived in North and South Carolina all my life and if memory serves, blue lights on law enforcement vehicles came in sometime in the mid-70s.

The green lights thing is not universal. I see mall security and other rent-a-cop-type vehicles with everything from red to amber to blue. Can’t say as I acutally remember seeing green, but I can’t say as I haven’t. There’s a suburb of Columbia called Forest Acres that may actually use green lights (or may have at one time) on their police cars.

Green in New York is used for volunteer emergency for ambulance only. My ex had one. I volunteered for fire AND ambulance and used blue and white.

I remember every trip growing up we had to cover our blue emergency light, because everywhere outside Long Island blue lights meant police-or so my parents told me.

Michigan State Police use blue beacons only, but I think the lights in the grill are red, white, and blue, or maybe just red and blue (the flashing headlights may be confusing my poor, little mind).

Japanese police use red, and keep them flashing all the time. If they want to pull you over, then the call you on the speakers.

:confused: What about that big red gumdrop light on top?