Police Strobes – History and Use of Police StrobesHistorically, police vehicles have been using strobe lights since the 1960’s. Strobe lights replaced halogen lighting. To provide color for strobe lights, there are plastic covers that enclose the strobe lights. With the use of strobe lights, emergency vehicles are able to have greater visibility. An emergency vehicle is normally traveling at a high rate of speed when responding to an emergency call so the warning light has to flash in regular intervals. This provides a way to effectively alert drivers who are traveling in all different directions that the emergency vehicle is coming. Since strobe lights have been used on emergency vehicles since the 1960’s, drivers have come to expect police strobes to be turned on when a police vehicle is responding to a call.
State laws regulate when and what colors strobe lights can be when installed onto emergency vehicles. Police strobes must follow strict guidelines and cannot be turned on unless the vehicle is responding to an emergency call. Parked emergency vehicles must leave the strobe lights on so that pedestrians and motorists are aware that there is a law enforcement response in progress. If the strobe lights are not on when a law enforcement vehicle is responding to a call, then other motorists do not know if they need to slow down or change lanes to avoid hitting the stopped vehicle.
Police strobes normally have a box that allows the driver to control the pattern of the strobe light and the number of times that the light flashes. The driver should be able to increase the number of times that the light flashes during a very urgent or high speed car chase. The faster the light flashes the more attention it will garner. The strobe lights can be used as emergency lights or alarm lights. Strobes can be placed inside of the vehicle or on top of it.
Strobe lights have been known to cause photosensitive epilepsy when flashed very rapidly. If someone is staring at a strobe light that flashes rapidly such as more than 100 times per second, they could have an episode of photosensitive epilepsy. Most police strobes are not set to flash very rapidly so there is no danger to someone who looks at a strobe light on a police vehicle. Some police officers have claimed that their night vision is impaired when they have to turn on their strobe lights. Strobe lights on emergency vehicles provide a safe and effective way to make sure that the general public is aware of an emergency vehicle.