When lights and sirens approach

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We all share the responsibility of knowing and practising proper driving behaviours. One of the most important "rules of the road" deals with yielding the right of way to emergency vehicles.

What drivers SHOULD do.

  • Remain calm and move your vehicle appropriately. Don't panic!
  • Pull to the right and come to a stop.
  • When on a high-speed road or when there is no room to stop, slow down as much as possible
  • When in the left lane, pull over into the right lane as the traffic in the lane to your right moves over
  • If you cannot move to the right because of an obstacle such as a car to your right, simply stop. Your prompt action will let the driver of the emergency vehicle know what you are doing; it will allow the driver to anticipate where to drive.
  • When an emergency vehicle approaches you from behind while you are stationary at an intersection stop sign or red light, do not move unless you can pull to the right
  • When on a one-way street, pulling to the right is still the best, but sometimes due to traffic, you may pull to the left curb and yield to the middle lane(s). This is the one appropriate exception to the "pull to the right" rule

What drivers SHOULD NOT do.

  • Don't stop in the middle lane when there is room to pull to the right
  • Don't pull to the left in the centre yellow lane or left turn lane
  • Don't drive through a red light or stop sign when an emergency vehicle approaches from behind
  • Don't turn quickly to the left into a driveway or street
  • Don't race ahead to get through a green light or turn before the emergency vehicle gets there
  • Don't disregard the presence of the emergency vehicle by continuing to drive on

The drivers of all emergency vehicles are thoroughly trained and tested. They are taught to drive with due regard for the safety of others. Their intent is to never force other drivers off the road. This supersedes a natural desire to get to the scene of an accident or fire by driving as fast as possible. Drivers of emergency vehicles know that they cannot help anyone if they don't get there! Generally, drivers should try to move to the right, if possible. Emergency vehicles will usually try and move to the left. Sometimes, due to traffic conditions, it may be also be necessary for emergency vehicles to travel in opposing lanes, against the flow of traffic. This is why it is very important for all vehicles to respect responding emergency vehicles by moving to the right and/or stopping.

When you or someone you care about requires the help of an emergency responder, you will be thankful for the drivers who didn't impede their safe and prompt arrival.