Green Lights on Cop Cars in Montana? Here’s What it Means
We're seeing more green flashing lights on Montana highways.
If you don't follow the MONTANA-tude! Facebook page, you probably should. It's one of our favorites. A recent post caught my eye about the use of green lights on cop cars in Montana.
Comments were flying.
Many were humorous, and some explained better what the green lights are all about. Terry M wrote,
Everyone is using green lights now from construction vehicles to state snowplows. Accord to MCA Green is reserved for incident command vehicles. But it evidently means whatever you want it to mean now.
So who can use the green lights and why? Here's what we found.
Incident Command gets the green.
As many people pointed out in the comment thread, Montana Code 61-9-402 states which vehicles are allowed to have green flashing lights (we added the bold):
"(8) A police vehicle and authorized emergency vehicle may be equipped with a flashing signal lamp that is green in color, visible from 360 degrees, and attached to the exterior roof of the vehicle for purposes of designation as the on-scene command and control vehicle in an emergency or disaster. The green light must have sufficient intensity to be visible at 500 feet in normal sunlight. Only the on-scene command and control vehicle may display green lights, lenses, or globes."
That seems clear enough. But what about snowplows?
Snowplows get them too, thanks to recent legislation.
In 2021, Montana updated its regulation on what color of light can be on snowplows. Apparently, studies have shown that people notice a green light better than amber or red flashers. A number of other states are also allowing green lights on snowplows. The 2021 Montana update 61-9-228 reads (bold added):
(1) The commission shall adopt standards and specifications applicable to headlamps, clearance lamps, and identification and other lamps on snow-removal equipment when operated on the highways of this state in lieu of the lamps otherwise required on motor vehicles by this chapter. The standards and specifications may permit the use of flashing lights and all colored lights, except blue lights, for purposes of identification on snow-removal equipment when in service on the highways.
OPINION: As long as we don't see red and blues flashing behind us on the highway when our right foot gets a little too heavy, green emergency lights are okay with us. They certainly stand out, and that seems like the whole point.
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