October 19, 2012 - We all know we are supposed to pull over when there is an emergency vehicle directly behind us. We also know that this is not good news. But when are we obligated to pull to the side of the road when a policeman is not looking to write us a ticket? I have heard so many different opinions. You always have to pull over. You only need to pull over when they are on your side of the road. You never need to pull over. Get behind the emergency vehicle and start drafting. Ok, so I never heard that last one but I did hear the rest. After looking into it, the rules are pretty easy to follow.
When the police car, fire truck, or the ambulance is behind you pull over to the right as far as you can. Do not stop in the middle of intersection, on the crest of a hill, or on a blind turn. Ok, so right now you are all saying, “DUH! We knew that one, get to the other scenarios.” I understand your hostility towards me and I forgive you. Let’s move on.
If an emergency vehicle is headed toward you in oncoming traffic you must pull over if there is no center divider. There are cases where the emergency vehicle will have to drive into oncoming traffic to get to where it needs to go. This means you and the emergency vehicle are safer with you all the way to the right side of the road. If you are on a highway or street with a center divider you do not need to pull over.
You must stay at least 500 feet back from an emergency vehicle with their lights and sirens on. So, sorry for those that wanted to go with that drafting idea. Also, it is a no-no to follow emergency vehicles to their destination.
If you fail to follow these rules you can be cited. Fines differ depending on which state you live in, but they usually start around $200 for the first violation. Although getting ticketed is never fun, they have these violations for a reason. These rules are in place to protect you and emergency personnel. Every year there are approximately 16,000 collisions involving emergency vehicles going to or from incidents?
All traffic laws differ from state to state. Please visit your states DMV website for exact laws on how to operate your vehicle when an emergency vehicle is in the vicinity.