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Why the New Red Flashing Lights Rule is a Game-Changer for Roadside Safety

08 October 2023
Why the New Red Flashing Lights Rule is a Game-Changer for Roadside Safety

Have you ever considered the impact of a simple flashing light on the safety of individuals working tirelessly on our roads? The colour of warning lights on recovery vehicles plays a pivotal role in alerting passing motorists and preventing accidents. In this post, we delve into the UK Government's recent initiative to equip breakdown and recovery vehicles with red flashing lights, aiming to significantly enhance roadside safety.

The shift towards red flashing lights is not merely a colour change, but a crucial step towards reducing the risks faced by recovery workers every day. This topic holds relevance for all road users as well as professionals involved in roadside assistance and recovery services. By understanding the importance of this initiative, we can collectively contribute to making our roads safer.

Road Accidents in the UK: A Glimpse into the Statistics

The dangers on UK roads are real and present. In 2023, an estimated 115,584 road casualties were reported in Great Britain, with 1,793 fatalities, 25,484 serious injuries, and 88,307 slight injuries. These figures underline the importance of enhancing safety measures for all road users, especially those involved in roadside recovery operations.

On a daily basis, the UK sees an average of five people losing their lives on the roads, with another 84 individuals sustaining serious injuries (Brake). This stark reality necessitates improved safety measures, particularly for individuals working on roadside recovery, who are at heightened risk due to their exposure to passing traffic.

In the following sections, we'll explore the legislative landscape surrounding vehicle warning lights, delve into different types of warning lights including Lightbars and LED Strobe Lights, and discuss practical tips for both road users and recovery operators. Moreover, we'll examine real-world examples to understand the implications better and provide resources for further reading.

The journey towards enhanced roadside safety begins with a simple flash of red. Let’s unravel the significance of this colour change and how it stands to make a lasting impact on our roads.

The Evolution of Vehicle Warning Lights

Understanding the essence of vehicle warning lights requires a peek into their basic definitions, historical evolution, and current trends. This section aims to equip you with a foundational understanding before we delve deeper into the specifics of red flashing lights.


Vehicle warning lights are crucial components installed on vehicles to signal to other road users about a potential hazard or the presence of service vehicles. They come in various forms, including Lightbars, LED Strobe Lights, and more, each designed to serve specific purposes and scenarios.

Historical Context

The use of vehicle warning lights dates back to the early 20th century when simple lanterns or manually operated lights were used. Over the decades, advancements in technology led to the development of automated flashing lights, further evolving into the LED-based systems we see today. The legislations governing the use of these lights have also evolved, reflecting the ongoing efforts to enhance roadside safety.

Current Trends

A notable trend is the UK Government's initiative to introduce red flashing lights on breakdown and recovery vehicles, a significant shift from the traditionally used amber lights. This change, announced in the Government's "Plan for Drivers" policy paper, aims to improve the visibility of recovery workers on the road, thereby reducing the risk of accidents.

The discussion on vehicle warning lights is not limited to the UK alone. Many countries are revisiting their road safety regulations to incorporate modern solutions for enhanced visibility and safety. The continuous innovation in vehicle warning and hazard products reflects a global commitment towards safer roads for all.

Unpacking the Red Flashing Lights Initiative

The core of this discussion revolves around delving into the specifics of vehicle warning lights and the legislative landscape that governs their use. Through a thorough exploration, we aim to unveil the significance behind the shift towards red flashing lights for breakdown and recovery vehicles.

The Risk to Roadside Workers

People at work on the roadside either recovering or repairing motor vehicles, including tyre and windscreen replacement, are at risk from other road users. The lack of exact data on the number of people killed or injured in such activities underscores the potential danger faced by these workers. However, it's noted that several deaths occur from this work activity annually (HSE).

Section 1: Types of Vehicle Warning Lights

Understanding the diversity in vehicle warning lights is crucial for appreciating the significance of the red flashing lights initiative.

Point A: Different Types of Warning Lights

Vehicle warning lights come in various forms, each tailored to meet specific needs on the road. Notable types include Lightbars and LED Strobe Lights, which are designed to provide high visibility in different conditions and environments.

Point B: Red Versus Amber Lights

Traditionally, amber lights have been used on recovery vehicles. However, the recent shift towards red flashing lights aims to provide better visibility, as red is often associated with caution and immediate attention.


A comparative analysis of red and amber lights reveals that red lights tend to capture attention more effectively, which is crucial during night-time or in adverse weather conditions.

Feature Red Lights Amber Lights
Visibility High Moderate
Association Caution, Urgency           General Warning
Effectiveness in Adverse Conditions           High Moderate

Section 2: Legislative Landscape

The legislative framework governing the use of vehicle warning lights is pivotal in shaping the safety standards on our roads.

Point A: UK Government's New Policy

The UK Government's initiative to allow red flashing lights on breakdown and recovery vehicles is a significant step towards enhancing roadside safety. This initiative is part of the broader "Plan for Drivers" policy aimed at creating safer roads.

Point B: Related Legislations

Besides the recent initiative, other legislations like the 'Chapter 8' Compliance also play a crucial role in governing vehicle lighting and ensuring road safety.


The evolving legislative landscape reflects a concerted effort to leverage modern technology for enhancing road safety. The inclusion of red flashing lights is a testament to this effort, paving the way for improved visibility and protection of recovery workers.


A timeline graphic showcasing the evolution of legislation governing vehicle warning lights over the years, highlighting the recent introduction of red flashing lights.

Case Studies or Examples

Example 1: The Tragic Loss of Steve Godbold

In September 2017, a vehicle recovery worker named Steve Godbold tragically lost his life while assisting another driver on the M25. Despite wearing high-visibility clothing and having amber lights flashing on his vehicle, he was struck and killed by a lorry that veered onto the hard shoulder. This incident highlights the dangers faced by recovery and breakdown service personnel, even with existing safety measures in place.

Example 2: Research on Emergency Vehicle Lighting Characteristics

A research study conducted by the Emergency Responder Safety Institute investigated the impact of emergency vehicle lighting characteristics on driver behaviour. The study explored how lighting colour, intensity, modulation, and flash rate affected driver behaviour while approaching and passing a traffic incident scene at night. Although the study primarily focuses on emergency vehicles, the findings are relevant to breakdown recovery vehicles given the similar hazards and the need for high visibility during night-time operations.

Example 3: Anecdotal Evidence on Emergency Lighting Systems

Anecdotal evidence suggests that public safety agencies select emergency lighting systems with red or blue flashing lights to ensure that they are bright enough to alert otherwise unaware drivers about their presence on and near the roadway. This evidence underscores the importance of adequate lighting systems to enhance the visibility of vehicles involved in road recovery operations, potentially preventing tragic incidents like the one that befell Steve Godbold.


These examples underscore the critical importance of visibility and adequate warning systems for roadside recovery operations. The tragic incident involving Steve Godbold accentuates the potential life-saving benefits of red flashing lights, which is further supported by research and anecdotal evidence regarding emergency lighting systems. The integration of red flashing lights for breakdown recovery vehicles is a step forward in enhancing the safety of both recovery personnel and other road users.


The exigencies of breakdown and recovery operations necessitate robust safety measures to protect both the recovery personnel and other road users. The introduction of red flashing lights is a commendable initiative in this regard, showcasing a proactive approach towards enhancing roadside safety. This post delved into the significance of red flashing lights, corroborated by real-world examples and data from reputable sources. Moreover, the extensive range of Vehicle Warning & Hazard Products offered by Dun-Bri Group exemplifies the pivotal role of technology in bolstering safety measures.

The challenges in this domain are manifold, yet with innovative solutions, adherence to legislative guidelines, and public awareness, overcoming them is within reach. The solutions proposed herein, ranging from high-visibility warning lights to advanced monitoring systems, underscore the importance of investing in safety technologies.

Engagement with reputable suppliers like Dun-Bri Group, boasting over 30 years of industry experience, ensures not only compliance with safety standards but also access to a wide array of products and services tailored to meet the evolving needs of breakdown and recovery operations.

As we traverse the journey towards enhanced roadside safety, the collective efforts of industry stakeholders, government bodies, and the public will be instrumental. The discourse around safety measures, coupled with actionable insights and practical tips provided in this post, paves the way for a safer operational environment in the breakdown and recovery sector.

Call to Action

Explore the diverse range of safety products and services offered by Dun-Bri Group, and take a step towards fortifying the safety measures in your breakdown and recovery operations. For personalized solutions and inquiries, feel free to contact Dun-Bri Group at +44 (0)1763 274185 or via email at

Closing Thoughts

The path towards enhanced safety is a collaborative endeavour, necessitating ongoing discussions, continuous learning, and the integration of advanced safety technologies. Let's work together in fostering a safer and more efficient operational landscape for breakdown and recovery services.

Additional Resources

Delving deeper into the subject of roadside safety and vehicle warning systems can provide invaluable insights for anyone involved in breakdown and recovery operations. Below are some recommended resources and further reading materials that can enhance your understanding and application of safety measures in this domain:

Resource 1: Dun-Bri Group’s Catalogue

Explore the extensive catalogue of Vehicle Warning & Hazard Products offered by Dun-Bri Group. This catalogue is a comprehensive resource for understanding the various products and solutions available to enhance the safety of your recovery vehicles.

Resource 2: Legislation Guides

Stay updated with the latest legal requirements concerning vehicle warning systems by referring to Dun-Bri Group’s Legislation Guides. These guides provide a thorough understanding of the legal frameworks governing vehicle safety in the UK.

Resource 3: Responder Safety Learning Network

The Responder Safety Learning Network offers a plethora of educational materials, online training, and resources focused on safeguarding emergency responders on the road.

Resource 4: Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT)

Engage with industry stakeholders and stay abreast of the latest developments in automotive safety through the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Further Reading:

  • “Effects of Warning Lamp Colour and Intensity on Driver Vision” by the Emergency Responder Safety Institute is a useful study exploring how different warning lamp colours and intensities impact driver vision and behaviour.
  • The article “Red Lights to Protect Recovery Workers” on Fleet News provides an in-depth look at the initiative to introduce red flashing lights for the protection of recovery workers.

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