While various forms of LED warning lights are perhaps best known for their uses in first responder situations like police or firefighters, they’re also invaluable for many other settings. One great example: Use by tow trucks and their drivers to ensure a roadside situation is properly managed and completely safe at all times.
At LED Equipped, we’re proud to offer a wide range of tow truck LED light bars, plus those that are perfect for similar vehicle types like snow plows and various other heavy-duty vehicles. In addition, we’re happy to assist clients with the proper use and maintenance of these lights — for tow truck drivers and any other users of these light bars in roadside situations, it’s vital to know how to use your lights in the right ways so they promote safety rather than interfering with it. Here are a few general themes to keep in mind when it comes to proper placement and use of your tow truck LED lights.
Quality Lights — But Not a Distraction
As a tow truck operator, it’s vital to ride the right line when it comes to your LED warning lights. These lights should serve as a prominent warning to drivers about your location — but should do so without proving a distraction or risk to motorists.
Our light bars for tow trucks serve this purpose perfectly, offering up high-intensity warning lights that get the job done without becoming a hazard to other drivers. These are bright enough to draw the attention of other motorists without becoming a distraction.
Generally speaking, we recommend maintaining a single, simple light pattern rather than a number of different LED lighting themes in a single tow truck light bar. Multiple colors or complex patterns can prove a distraction to other drivers — plus, they don’t have any bearing on the actual function of these lights in increasing roadside safety. Add in the fact that more complex lighting schemes might create glare and related safety issues, and it’s easy to see how having one single pattern can be the best choice for your LED lights.
Warnings, Not Confusion
The goal of these lights in every tow-related circumstance is to warn drivers regarding your presence. Tow trucks are particularly dangerous roadside operations, often requiring other drivers to slow down or move over as you work. LED lights on tow trucks serve the purpose of keeping these motorists aware of your location without becoming too much of a distraction — and generally speaking, this means avoiding any kind of flashing pattern whatsoever.
Flash patterns like those found on police or firefighter LED lights can prove too much of a distraction for other drivers, so we generally recommend steering clear of them. That’s not to say you should avoid any kind of pattern entirely — just that it makes sense to stick with the kinds of patterns used by tow truck drivers fairly consistently across your entire light bar or array.
Another important variable to consider here is the height at which your tow truck LED light bars are mounted. We automatically assume that businesses like towing companies want the most powerful possible warning lights on their trucks, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they should be mounted as high as possible.
While installing your light bar near the roof of your vehicle offers an optimal view for other motorists (and therefore improved safety), it also runs the risk of getting damaged more easily. It’s also important to consider that when your tow truck carrier bed is being tilted to accommodate a new vehicle, your taillights will be obscured — and that’s not a situation you want to be in when your lights aren’t working.
Tow truck drivers have to consider their vehicle’s entire setup when it comes to the placement of tow bar LED light bars, which means being aware of all possible lighting locations and how they can affect overall safety. Generally speaking, this often means starting with rear LED light bars near the midpoint of a truck’s cab and then working up or down from there.
Another tilt-related factor to consider here: If your lights are too high up, they may appear further away than they actually are — and that could lead to a crash or serious injury. This just illustrates the importance of having lights at multiple different heights, including not only your LED warning lights themselves, but also coordination with taillights, brake lights and turn signals.
Another major area where LED tow truck lights differ from those used in police or firefighter responses: Their color. While red and blue flashing lights are strongly associated with law enforcement and fire departments, towing companies typically prefer using amber lights because they’re far less likely to distract other motorists. In most cases, and unless instructed otherwise by your local municipality, this is the route you’ll want to go for your tow truck LED lights.
If you’re unsure about which color of light is best for your business, consider consulting with law enforcement or firefighting professionals in your local area — they might be able to offer some sound advice on this front. There’s been a push from some in this world to standardize these light colors; others fight back against this effort, maintaining that keeping light colors separate provides an important set of distinctions in roadside safety.
Many companies rely on just one single LED light bar when they’re out on the road, often with it mounted toward the roofline at the rear of their vehicles. While this does work to improve rear visibility in most instances, using a more comprehensive setup can also be beneficial — and this is especially true if you’re also using LED light bars for your turn signals and brake lights.
In these cases, it’s important to consider the length of your individual LED light bar as well as whatever additional lighting systems you may use. When coordinating all of these different aspects (light bar plus turn/brake), as a general rule of thumb you’ll want to make sure the distance between one end of your light array and another is never more than 38 inches.
State or Local Light Usage Laws
As a tow truck driver, it’s also vital to be aware of your state or local area’s laws when it comes to light usage. For instance, some states require that tow vehicles keep their warning lights on during the entire duration of any trip where a vehicle is being towed behind them. Other states leave it up to the discretion of drivers so long as they don’t have any passengers in the vehicle being towed — and even these decisions can be affected by things like time of day, weather conditions and how busy a particular stretch of road is.
In general, you’ll want to review your state or local municipality’s rules on this front before you go out on the road — including which specific lights are required. Many municipalities allow drivers to use these LED warning lights only while the vehicle is actually hooked up to a tow truck, for instance, or they may require that various types of additional lighting be included depending on situation — like whether you’re traveling at night or during the day.
Proper maintenance is also key when your business depends on high levels of lighting safety. Make sure to check each one of your LED lights regularly for any signs of damage or malfunction; if you notice anything wrong with a particular light, it’s important to take care of the problem right away. This could be as simple as replacing a bulb, or it could entail checking any associated wiring or other components on your entire light setup.
No matter the nature of the problem, it’s important to get this kind of maintenance repair work done as quickly as possible — otherwise, you risk having a lesser level of safety for yourself and all others who share the road with you.
For more on proper use and application of LED lights for tow truck drivers, or to learn about any of our quality LED light bars, car lights, strobe lights or other options, speak to the pros at LED Equipped today.