Perhaps it is the influx of new drivers that aren’t being trained in the ways of the road, or maybe people just aren’t paying close enough attention, but an alarming thing is happening on our roadways. In many instances, people are failing to surrender the road to emergency vehicles in a timely fashion, and wasting valuable seconds. Are we unknowledgeable about how to properly give over the road or are simply oblivious that they’re behind our vehicles?
Most drivers may not consider this to a dire situations, but these vehicles are typically dispatched for the purpose of legitimate emergencies, and every second counts. Consider that the vehicle is responding to a house fire, and the way they’re traveling is the path of least resistance. If a driver is spending more time fooling with the radio or their cell phones and not getting out of the way fast enough, the chances increase of the fire destroying someone’s property.
The unfortunate thing about today’s drivers is that there seems to be an inappropriate amount of confusion when an emergency vehicle is approaching us from the rear. According to Detroit Chrylser, Driver’s education training used to include a segment of the class that dictated proper protocol for surrendering to ambulances, fire trucks, and police vehicles, but it would appear that this education has fallen by the wayside as the approach now has drivers rife with confusion.
It could be the fault of the mass of construction work being executed and changing traffic patterns that has drivers befuddled as to where to go in these instances. However, it could easily be argued that drivers being hyper-aware of their surroundings could increase the knowledge of what to do during these situations. We hear all the time that driving is a right and not a privilege, so it is our responsibility to know our travel routes well enough to be aware of where to go in the event of the approach of an emergency vehicle.
Drivers of these vehicles are trained to drive as safely as possible to get to the scene, but they don’t follow traffic rules that same way typical drivers must. This means that it doesn’t matter if the driver has the right of way to proceed through a light or an intersection, the ambulance still takes top priority. It is imperative that each driver on the roads knows the proper protocol for surrendering the road to these emergency vehicles.
According to the laws mandated by most states, the proper protocol consists of safely navigating your vehicle to the shoulder of the road at the approach of an emergency vehicle. This does not mean simply jerking your car off the road without care for other vehicles. It means that each driver is responsible to check their mirrors and the space around their car to ensure that they are safely able to proceed to the shoulder of the road without interrupting the flow of traffic. After the vehicle has safely passed and is at least 500 feet ahead on its route, the driver may then safely proceed back on course.
It is perhaps a lack of knowledge of how to handle these situations in a high volume traffic instance, or on a massive highway, but the same rules apply. Proceed as carefully as possible out of the vehicle’s way and don’t assume that everyone else is doing the same to allow for your safe passage. Driving defensively is a key principle of any safe driving situation, and that doesn’t change in the case of moving out of the way of an emergency vehicle. We need to be aware of our surroundings in order to prevent further accidents.
The thing to consider when a driver sees the approach of an emergency vehicle from behind is that they’re answering the call to tend to another human being’s emergency, and there is little more important than that. Their focus is single-minded in their attempt to arrive safely at the scene to which they’ve been called, and it is our responsibility in sharing the road to make that passage as easy as possible. As fellow members of the human race, we must consider how we would want people to react in the case that it was our emergency to which they were traveling.