It can be startling and even frightening to hear sirens and see flashing lights when you’re driving. Whether the source of those lights and sirens is an ambulance, fire truck or police cruiser, you need to get out of the way.
Many people panic and don’t know how best to do that. They can end up causing a crash or making an already-dangerous road situation worse. That’s why every driver should know what to do when they encounter an emergency vehicle – whether it’s behind them, ahead of them or on the side of the road.
If it’s been a while since you were in driver’s ed, one leading insurance company offers the following guidance:
If an emergency vehicle is behind you: Move into the far right lane. If you’re already in the right lane, pull carefully on to the shoulder of the road and stop until the emergency vehicle has safely passed. Look and listen for other emergency vehicles following it. If you end up following the vehicle later on, stay at least 500 feet behind it.
If an emergency vehicle is approaching from the other direction: If there’s no median between you, pull over on the shoulder and stop. Stay there until it (and any other) emergency vehicles have passed you.
If an emergency vehicle is stopped on or near the road: Slow down and, if possible, move over so that you leave an open lane between you and the emergency vehicle(s). Drive slowly and safely past the vehicles and whatever incident they’re attending to.
All states have some type of “Move Over” law that addresses what drivers need to do when they encounter any type of emergency vehicle. This law may apply to vehicles doing road work as well.
According to the Kentucky State Police, State, drivers who don’t comply can face fines as well as potential jail time.
Unfortunately, as we noted, sometimes people panic when they see emergency vehicles and don’t know what to do. Sometimes they speed up and try to get passed them as quickly as possible. Too often, they slow down or stop to get a good look at what ‘s going on. Any of these things can cause a serious crash. If you’re injured by a reckless or negligent driver, make sure you seek the compensation you need for medical bills and other expenses and damages.