Chapter 4F. Traffic Control Signals for Emergency Vehicle Access
An emergency-vehicle traffic control signal is a special traffic control signal that assigns the right-of-way to an authorized emergency vehicle.
An emergency-vehicle traffic control signal may be installed at a location that does not meet other traffic signal warrants such as at an intersection or other location to permit direct access from a building housing the emergency vehicle.
If a traffic control signal is not justified under the signal warrants of Chapter 4C and if gaps in traffic are not adequate to permit reasonably safe entrance of emergency vehicles, or the stopping sight distance for vehicles approaching on the major street is insufficient to permit reasonably safe entrance of emergency vehicles, installing an emergency-vehicle traffic control signal should be considered. If one of the signal warrants of Chapter 4C is met and a traffic control signal is justified by an engineering study, and if a decision is made to install a traffic control signal, it should be installed based upon the provisions of Chapter 4D.
The sight distance determination should be based on the location of the visibility obstruction for the critical approach lane for each street or drive and the posted or statutory speed limit or 85th-percentile speed on the major street, whichever is higher.
Except as specified in this Section, an emergency-vehicle traffic control signal shall meet the requirements of this Manual.
An Emergency Vehicle (W11-8) sign (see Section 2C.40) with an EMERGENCY SIGNAL AHEAD (W11-12p) supplemental plaque shall be placed in advance of all emergency-vehicle traffic control signals. If a warning beacon is installed to supplement the W11-8 sign, the design and location of the beacon shall conform to the Standards specified in Sections 4K.01 and 4K.03.
At least one of the two required signal faces for each approach on the major street should be located over the roadway.
The following size signal lenses should be used for emergency-vehicle traffic control signals: 300 mm (12 in) diameter for red and steady yellow signal indications, and 200 mm (8 in) diameter for flashing yellow or steady green signal indications.
An EMERGENCY SIGNAL (R10-13) sign shall be mounted adjacent to a signal face on each major street approach (see Section 2B.45). If an overhead signal face is provided, the EMERGENCY SIGNAL sign shall be mounted adjacent to the overhead signal face.
An approach that only serves emergency vehicles may be provided with only one signal face consisting of one or more signal sections.
Besides using a 200 mm (8 in) diameter signal indication, other appropriate means to reduce the flashing yellow light output may be used.
Right-of-way for emergency vehicles at signalized locations operating in the steady (stop-and-go) mode shall be obtained as specified in Section 4D.13.
As a minimum, the signal indications, sequence, and manner of operation of an emergency-vehicle traffic control signal installed at a midblock location shall be as follows:
- The signal indication, between emergency-vehicle actuations, shall be either steady green or flashing yellow. If the flashing yellow signal indication is used instead of the steady green signal indication, it shall be displayed in the normal position of the steady green signal indication, while the red and steady yellow signal indications shall be displayed in their normal positions.
- When an emergency vehicle actuation occurs, a steady yellow change interval followed by a steady red interval shall be displayed to traffic on the major street.
- A yellow change interval is not required following the green interval for the emergency-vehicle driveway.
Emergency-vehicle traffic control signals located at intersections shall either be operated in the flashing mode between emergency-vehicle actuations (see Section 4D.12) or be fully or semi-traffic-actuated, to accommodate normal vehicular and pedestrian traffic on the streets.
Warning beacons, if used with an emergency-vehicle traffic control signal, shall be flashed only:
- For an appropriate time in advance of and during the steady yellow change interval for the major street; and
- During the steady red interval for the major street.
The duration of the red interval for traffic on the major street should be determined by on-site test-run time studies, but should not exceed 1.5 times the time required for the emergency vehicle to clear the path of conflicting vehicles.
An emergency-vehicle traffic control signal sequence may be initiated manually from a local control point such as a fire station or law enforcement headquarters or from an emergency vehicle equipped for remote operation of the signal.