How to handle driving near emergency vehicles

Posted on by Defensive Driving Team | in Defensive Driving Online
Uh-oh. You’re driving down the road and suddenly you hear sirens in the distance. What now?

Although driver’s ed courses address what to do in these situations, no one seems to remember how to respond appropriately.

Approaching from the Rear

The DefensiveDriving.com team has compiled a step-by-step list of how to react when an ambulance, fire truck or police car is approaching from the rear:

1. Slow down and check the flow of traffic around you.
2. If you’re leading the pack, put your hazard lights on so cars behind you know there’s an emergency ahead.
3. Turn on your blinker and pull over as far to the right as you can so the vehicle can pass you. It is important to drive as safely as possible so you don’t cause an accident or disrupt traffic further.
4. Come to a complete stop.
5. Pull back onto the road only after the emergency vehicle is a safe distance ahead of you.
6. Stay at least 500 feet behind any emergency vehicle with its lights on.

Approaching from the Front

While the appropriate response to an emergency vehicle approaching from behind is fairly uniform across the country, what to do if the vehicle is coming from the opposite direction varies from state to state.

According to the National Safety Commission, the correct response is to be prepared to slow down or stop in case the vehicle needs to turn into your lane. However, according to Texas law, drivers are required to pull over to the right until the vehicle passes no matter which direction it is coming from. In New York, drivers must yield the right of way to emergency vehicles approaching from the opposite direction on a two-way roadway. The DefensiveDriving.com team recommends that you consult your state laws on how best to respond in these situations.

Over the last 10 years, 47 states have enacted some form of a “Move Over Law.” These laws were created in an attempt to lower the number of law enforcement officers injured or killed during traffic stops; they require drivers to move into the opposite lane when passing a stopped emergency vehicle. If unable to move into the next lane, drivers must slow to a speed as much as 20 mph less than the speed limit.

According to the National Safety Commission, studies show that although most drivers are unaware of these laws, law enforcement officials are enforcing them by ticketing anyone who does not slow down or move over.

Stopped

If you are driving and come upon a stopped ambulance, fire truck or police car with its lights flashing:

1. Vacate the lane closest to the emergency vehicle.
2. Slow to a speed not more than 20 mph less than the speed limit when the posted speed limit is 25 mph or more; or
3. Slow to a speed not more than 5 mph when the posted speed limit is less than 25 mph.

Also, it is important to remember that emergency vehicles always have the right of way at intersections, no matter what.

A good rule of thumb in these instances is simply to drive as safely as possible. By giving emergency vehicles enough space to get where they need to go, you’ll ensure your safety and will help EMTs, firemen and police officers do their jobs!

~ B. Waldman

|

Customer Reviews

Defensivedriving.com has a ShopperApproved rating of 4.7 based on 81047 ratings and reviews.

Mike TX, United States
Easy to do
David TX, United States
Video options save a lot of time
Caleb
Over all it’s been very easy to deal with. So thanks
Fernando
sign up process is quick and simple!
Erica
Easy so far. I like the options
James
Easy and fast to sign up for.
hunter
easy set up
Octavio TX, United States
I enjoyed the intuitive ease of use.
Brooke
Easy to use
Laura
Simple and convenient.
Maria
user friendly
James
Easy website use
CLAIRE
Quick and to the point!
jaiden
quick and easy
Derek TX, United States
simple and fast
Aaron TX, United States
Two thumbs up!!!
Hope United States
Easy process
Jere
Great
Lindsay
easy and self explanatory
Francisco
best price
Garrett
Clear and simple explanations of the differences between the video and text course. Quick and straightforward registration and payment process.
Crystal
Very clear and easy to follow
Allyson
Quick and easy registration
James
quick
Nicholas
Awesome!
Ty
Very Easy to Register
John United States
It's a good resource
Haley TX, United States
It was simple, and easy to get my ticket from going on my record!
Bonnita United States
Great website
Baylee TX, United States
It's easy and self-explanatory
Timothy
Very Good!!
stephen
Easy to find and to work with. Site is very good.
Amanda
Easy to use
johnny
very professional
Allen
easy and fast
Michelle
Wonderful course
Baleigh TX, United States
very quick and easy to start the process and love the fact that you can complete at anytime on a desktop, or mobile device.
Rolando
really fast and smooth. love it
See all reviews on shopperApproved.com
Why DefensiveDriving.com
  • 20 Years in Business
  • Over 2 Million Customers Served
  • Highest Possible Better Business Bureau Rating
  • Award Winning Course