Drivers newly possessed of a license may remember all the emergency-vehicle rules of the road, but enough drivers of a certain age have forgotten them that County Fire sent out a reminder of what to do when flashing lights and sirens are seen and heard. “This is a situation that challenges operators of emergency equipment on a daily basis,” Fire Captain Daniel Bertucelli said. As many as 16,000 collisions take place in the U.S. every year as fire vehicles respond to emergencies, and the rules apply to all emergency responders, such as law enforcement and ambulances.
The basic rule is to pull over and stop to the right of the road when an emergency vehicle approaches. On a high-speed roadway, you should slow down and move to the right, as should all drivers upon seeing the lights and hearing the siren. If you cannot move over, brake and stay put to let the oncoming emergency driver know what you are doing.
California law says to never stop in an intersection, but if you’re already stopped in an intersection when an emergency vehicle comes along, stay where you are until you can pull to the right.
On a two- or four-lane street or highway without barriers, all lanes of traffic should pull over. On such a multiple-lane road with a center barrier, only the side with the oncoming emergency vehicle must move to the right. Never move into the center divider or to the left as the emergency truck driver anticipates using it for travel.
Among the list of “do not”s are: never race to beat an emergency vehicle to a green light, never drive through a red light or stop sign, never disregard the emergency lights and siren, and never play your music so loudly you can’t hear a siren.
Bertucelli said pulling over to the right is “one simple thing everyone can do to help firefighters, ambulances, and law enforcement officers provide emergency assistance as quickly as possible.”