Get out of the way when you see emergency vehicles

Everyone must pull over and stop if they see an emergency vehicle approaching with a flashing red light and siren.

“Well, I thought that you were trying to catch that car ahead of me.”

This is a common reply when drivers are stopped to explain why they didn’t pull over for the police vehicle trying to catch an obvious violator. The vehicle ahead of these drivers might be the object of the pursuit, but how is that driver to know?

The driver doesn’t need to know.

On the approach of an emergency vehicle — police, fire or ambulance — that is sounding a siren and showing a flashing red light, a driver must yield the right of way and IMMEDIATELY drive to a position parallel to and as close as possible to the nearest edge of the roadway clear of an intersection, STOP and REMAIN STOPPED until the emergency vehicle has passed.

A driver doesn’t have to consider who is being pulled over because EVERYONE must pull over and stop. This includes drivers on BOTH SIDES OF THE ROADWAY regardless how many lanes wide it might be.

What if you don’t hear a siren?

This doesn’t mean that one is not being used, as emergency vehicles approaching from the rear are seldom heard before they are seen if the driver is paying attention.

Pull over and stop even if you don’t hear a siren, as this will avoid possible charges if you are in error.

Consider for a moment that when you require one of the emergency services, it is very important to you that they arrive as soon as possible. You would appreciate other drivers making room to keep that precious time short, wouldn’t you?

Regardless of what the law might say, you must be prepared to extend that same courtesy to others by getting out of the way yourself.

For more information on this topic, visit www.drivesmartbc.ca. Questions or comments are welcome by e-mail to comments@drivesmartbc.ca. Tim Schewe is a retired RCMP constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. His column appears Friday.