First responders serve all of us and if it were my family in trouble, I’d want to know that the first responders were on their way with the utmost sense of urgency. While they are specially trained to drive at higher speeds and are permitted to take the right of way in certain circumstances (i.e. run red lights, etc.) they are also supposed to operate in as safe a manner as possible. First responders (i.e. Police, Fire, EMT/Ambulance) have a pressing need to get to their destination as quickly as possible to save lives and deal with a wide range of possible problems.
As drivers, we can contribute to the safety of both first responders and other motorists by understanding and following the traffic rules that are in place for these situations.
5 Steps You Must Take While Dealing with Emergency Vehicles on the Road:
- When the emergency vehicle approaches from behind you must slow down and check all the traffic around you — there could be another car, a cyclist, or a pedestrian.
- Once you spot a clear path to the shoulder, flip on your blinker or your hazard lights and make your way over to the right. Sometimes it may mean clearing an intersection, or building an opening, cooperatively, with other motorists to help the responder get past.
- Remember that first responders may travel in groups so check for additional emergency vehicles before pulling back into your travel lane.
- We should wait until the responder has gotten past before re-entering traffic. After an emergency vehicle with flashing lights has passed by, you’re generally expected to stay about 300–500 feet behind it.
- When emergency responders are out of their vehicles delivering services on the side of a road, they’re exposed to being hit by other motorists. This is a huge vulnerability, and we can help to minimize the chances of injuries by slowing down or moving over to give them plenty of space as we pass by.
Did you know that many motorists are unfamiliar with our driving laws, or have a flawed/incomplete understanding of what to do. Talking on your phone or texting is dangerous and illegal, you may not hear or acknowledge the emergency vehicles until they are being passed. Modern vehicles are so thoroughly sound-proofed that many first responders’ sirens are not recognized until the emergency vehicle is close to approaching the motorist. Some drivers use ear-buds or headphones while driving (to listen to their portable music devices) – in many cases this is illegal activity since it interferes with recognizing the approach of emergency vehicles.
Drive Safe. Pay Attention To The Road.