While an emergency may not happen to you on a daily basis, they do happen pretty frequently around the world. This leads to quite a lot of first responders rushing off to save the day. This, in turn, means that a lot of drivers have encountered an emergency vehicle rushing by them on the road.
Many drivers know that when they hear the sirens and see the flashing lights they need to get out of the way. However, not every driver follows this law. Some drivers don’t realize that they are in fact required by law to move out of the way. This can cause problems for the for the first responders and get a person in big trouble.
What is the Law?
Here in the state of California, all drivers are required to move out of the way of emergencies vehicles that are on their way to an emergency. Basically, this means that any time an emergency vehicle is approaching with its lights flashing and siren blaring, the driver needs to pull over to the side. This is required by California Vehicle Code 21806.
Under VC 21806 all traffic within 1,000 feet of an emergency vehicle with flashing lights and sirens should immediately pull over to the right of the road, as soon as it is safe to do so. A driver should move over in a safe manner and should not block any intersections. The driver then needs to remain to the side of the road until the vehicle has passed.
If a person is driving on a freeway and an emergency vehicle comes up behind them with their lights on, the vehicle still needs to move to the right. If the driver is currently in a sectioned off lane, such as a carpool lane, they have to move out of the way. They are legally allowed to cross over a double yellow line in order to do so.
Even street cars and trolleys have to “pull over.” Since these vehicles can’t pull over due to the fact that they are on rails, this basically means that vehicle has to come to a complete stop wherever it is, provided it does not stop in an intersection.
Consequences for Not Moving Over
If a driver does not move out of the way, tries to stay in front of, or tries to follow immediately behind and emergency vehicle, they can be ticketed. A first time violation of California Vehicle Code 21806 can earn a person a minimum fine of $490 fine. This doesn’t include any fees that may also be tacked onto the price. The person will also receive a point on their DMV record.
California uses a point system to keep track of drivers and make sure they follow the rules of the road. If a driver acquires too many points on their record within too short of a time, they could face higher insurance rates and run the risk of losing their driver’s license.
What about Getting Pulled Over?
Another time that a person may see flashing lights while driving is when they are getting pulled over for a traffic violation. The driver could have broken any number of laws, ranging from having a broken taillight to speeding. No matter the reason behind the action, the result is the same.
When a person sees a law enforcement vehicle approach from behind with flashing lights, they need to move over to the right. If the vehicle continues to follow the driver, then they are being pulled over. They need to either pullover to the right side of the road, or exit the freeway and then pullover. The officer will likely use a loudspeaker to direct the driver on what to do. The driver should follow all of the officer’s instructions.
Emergency Vehicles Get Right of Way
When it comes to emergency vehicles with flashing lights, they always get the right of way no matter the situation. Drivers should always yield to emergency vehicles. The same even goes for pedestrians. Pedestrians should never try to cross a road when an emergency vehicle is approaching.
The reason behind all of this is that these vehicles are on their way to deal with very important things. The occupants of the vehicles are first responders to emergency situations and time is critical for them. The extra second they have to wait for someone to get out of the way could cost someone else their life. That is why it is always important to get out of the way of an emergency vehicle that has its lights flashing and sirens blarring.