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Lights in back on a wrecker tow


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I have always been under the impression in PA, that when towing with a wrecker, the amber lights must be on and if the wrecker turn and stop lights are visible behind the causality, there is no need to add stop and turn lights on the causality.  Recently, I have seen the lights added when the wrecker lights are clearly visible.  


What is the law?

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I cant speak for PA Directly, But I am pretty sure the Laws regarding tag lights are the same as NY whereas ANY vehicle in tow MUST have tag/tow lights installed regardless whether the towing vehicles lights are visible or not. As far as rolling down the road with your Amber lights/beacons on, I strenuously disagree with that practice. Amber lights are a warning device used to warn oncoming drivers of a possible road blockage or impingement. If your casualty is secured properly on the appropriate tow truck and your travelling along then what is the point of having them on? you can travel down the road like any other vehicle. If it is infact a law in your state to run down the road with your beacons going, then that is one law I would be breaking. Having those lights going constantly only de-sensitizes the motoring public to them. So when your on the side of the road with them going where you actually need to garner a little attention, They pay no mind to them. I personally only activate my beacons when I am on the side of a trafficked road working. If I am in a private driveway, parking lot or anyplace where there no chance of any traffic advancing towards my set up area then I dont turn them on. I have been told by some that I am a "beacon Nazi". There is some clowns around here that will have their lights going all day long. Even when they are parked at a store to get coffee or fuel. 

In any event, The man that would most likely be able to depict the Pa. law verbatim for you would be a member who goes by Brian991219. He runs a company in Pa. called Fleet Compliance Solutions. ( I think I have directed you to talk with him in the past if I remember correctly ) He Knows his stuff when it comes to these issues. Especially since he is based out of Pa.

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Here is what I found, and I see nothing about running the amber lights.  

(e)  Obstructed lighting equipment.--Whenever the rear
     running lights, stop lights, turn signals or hazard warning
     lights required by the provisions of Chapter 43 (relating to
     lighting equipment) are obstructed by the load on a vehicle or
     by a towed vehicle or its load, lighting equipment shall be
     displayed on the rear of the towed vehicle or load equivalent to
     the obstructed lights or signals, except in the case of
     implements of husbandry or commercial implements of husbandry
     displaying the slow-moving vehicle emblem and operating between
     sunrise and sunset.

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As far as running lights on the back of a towed vehicle that is all I could find as well. I still think I would prefer taking the extra time to put towing lights on the back. And on the subject for running amber flashers, I totally agree with Grumps, why should we be running our amber flashers when we are driving down the highway as a normal vehicle. Doesn't this only make the public pay less attention to us when we are working along the highway?

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  • 1 month later...

I hauled 2 back from West Virginia last week I noticed every wrecker and rollback with one on the stinger had the amber emergency lights flashing. That was in WV.  In Ohio and Pennsylvania about half had them on. In NY we are told less is better and to keep the flashing lights off unless actively loading a vehicle. I left mine on up to the NY line people think 70mph speed limit means 100 down there. Not sure whats right. 

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PA, they should not be on.

Brian is well versed in the law and sent me the information below.  I had also run the wrecker with the amber lights on and no tow lights if my upper wrecker lights were visible.  Now I just put the tow lights on everything and leave the amber light off.  





In Pennsylvania it is unlawful to run your amber lights unless you are stationary and/or a hazard to traffic. The reason is that Pennsylvania requires tow lights to be displayed at the rearmost possible location on a vehicle in tow and otherwise only permits the display of flashing amber lights by tow trucks in tow if the load is unsafe or the stop/tail/turn lights are obstructed.


To get to the definitive answer you need to follow a few different sections of our Vehicle Code and other Statutes. First you need to read;

§ 4572.1.  Flashing or revolving yellow and white lights.

(a)  General rule.--Tow trucks may be equipped with one or more flashing or revolving yellow lights and one or more flashing or revolving white lights. The manner in which the light or lights shall be displayed shall be determined by regulation of the department.

(b)  Limitations.--The flashing or revolving yellow and white lights on tow trucks shall be activated only when the vehicle is actively performing the type of work which is the basis of the designation of the vehicle as an authorized vehicle or is within the vicinity of an emergency response area. Tow trucks shall not operate with activated flashing or revolving yellow and white lights when:

(1)  Not engaged in the act of towing a vehicle.

(2)  Brake lights, turn signals and operating lights are visible from the rear and not obstructed.

(3)  The vehicle being towed does not trail behind the tow truck and is securely positioned on the flatbed of the tow truck with no parts of the towed vehicle overhanging.

(c)  Penalty.--Unauthorized use of the lights specified in this subsection shall be a summary offense punishable by a fine of $50.

(Oct. 19, 2018, P.L.547, No.83, eff. 60 days)


2018 Amendment.  Act 83 added section 4572.1.


Then you apply the section of Code you already have found which in effect nullifies the most common reason cited for displaying amber lights while in tow, obstructed stop/tail/turn lights. Also note (b) (3) above which prohibits the display of amber flashing lights when using a flatbed.


For a more detailed explanation of emergency lighting rules nationwide see the May 2019 edition of American Towman Magazine where I have published a fairly detailed and mostly current (a few states have change slightly since publication) article on this subject.

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