Many people panic or simply don’t adhere to the rules of the road for approaching emergency vehicles. The law is very specific; drivers must yield the right-of-way to an emergency vehicle, and failure to do so can cause serious accidents or delays in ambulances, fire engines and fire trucks arriving at the scene of an emergency. Firefighters are careful to avoid vehicle collisions by driving slowly when traveling against traffic, or coming to a complete stop at intersections. However, the cooperation of ALL vehicles on the roadway is essential.
There are some simple rules to follow when you’re on the road and encounter an emergency vehicle:
- Stay calm.
- Pull to the right and come to a complete stop.
- If you’re traveling on a high-speed road or if there is no room to stop, slow down as much as possible.
- If you are in the left lane, pull over into the right lane as traffic in the lane to your right moves over.
- If you cannot move to the right because of another vehicle or obstacle, just stop.
- Your action will let the driver of the emergency vehicle know what you are doing and allow the driver to anticipate where to drive.
- When an emergency vehicle approaches you from behind while you are stopped at an intersection, stay where you are unless you can pull to the right.
- On a 4-lane highway or street without barriers, both sides of traffic should pull to the right.
- Be careful when driving by or around a motor vehicle accident or any situation where emergency vehicles are parked and the firefighters are working.
- Drivers should stay at least 500 feet behind emergency vehicles.
- Don’t panic.
- Don’t play your radio so loudly that you are unable to hear sirens.
- Don’t stop in the middle lane when there is room to pull to the right.
- Don’t pull to the left in the center lane or left turn lane.
- Don’t race ahead to make the green light or turn before the emergency vehicle gets there.
- Don’t turn quickly to the left onto a street or driveway.
- Don’t drive through a red light or stop sign when an emergency vehicle approaches from behind.
- If the emergency vehicle is traveling on the opposite direction of a divided highway or street, you do not need to pull over.
- Don’t disregard the presence of the emergency vehicle by continuing to drive.
Emergency Vehicles and You: When an emergency vehicle has its lights and siren on, it is responding to an emergency. It is the law and YOUR responsibility to:
- Pull to the right side of the road and STOP until the emergency vehicle has passed.
- Give all emergency vehicles the right-of-way.
- Keep back at least 500 feet from an emergency vehicle when it is responding with lights and sirens.
- Do not drive over fire hoses.
- Drive carefully around an emergency scenes.
- At the Emergency have someone wait at the street to direct the fire and police departments to the emergency.
- If you are a witness to the emergency, stay at the scene to provide emergency personnel with information.
- If you are asked to move or leave the area, do it. The firefighters and police officers are looking out for your safety.
- Remember, things can become very hectic in an emergency. Firefighters and police officers need to do their job in a safe way.