Red or Green Lights – Move Right!

When you see flashing red lights on police cars, ambulances, and fire trucks while you're driving, it is the law that you move over so the route is clear for these emergency vehicles to pass. But, what happens when you see a flashing green light in a personal vehicle?

The use of flashing green lights in personally operated vehicles is permitted under the Highway Traffic Act for a firefighter, volunteer, or off duty full-time firefighter while responding to a fire or other emergency. Although the flashing green light does not allow the driver any special privileges under the Highway Traffic Act, it does help to alert other drivers that a firefighter is on route to an emergency, and to be courteous by yielding the right-of-way.

On December 9, 1994 legislation was passed through an amendment to the Highway Traffic Act, 1990 (HTA, 1990) that allows firefighters to display a flashing green light on their personal vehicle when responding to emergencies. The use of flashing green lights on vehicles is primarily restricted to the Ontario Fire Service.

When safe to do so, emergency vehicles are permitted to exceed posted speed limits as well as go through red traffic lights (if emergency lights are flashing, the siren is sounding, after the vehicle comes to a complete stop, and then proceeds when the way is clear). Vehicles with flashing green lights do not have these special permissions or added response considerations.

While you are not legally obligated to pull over or stop your vehicle when you see the flashing green lights, it’s asked that you recognize firefighters are responding to an emergency and yield the right-of-way when it is safe to do so.

Firefighters are serving their local community... Who knows, they may be responding to assist one of your neighbours or even your family.

For more information about the Highway Traffic Act, please visit the Service Ontario e-Laws website.