The law dictates that when an emergency vehicle is approaching, all other vehicles are to yield the right-of-way and immediately move to the right of the road and/or highway and stop until the emergency vehicle has passed; it’s something we all needed to know in order to pass the driving test and obtain a license.
But have you watched what people really do? Our hurry-up-and-get-to-where-we’re-going, my-needs-are-more-important, “Oh-I-didn’t-see-you-there!” tendencies have overflowed into how we respond to emergency vehicles. Cars continue through intersections, make those turns, and seem to pay no attention to the sirens until the very last minute, when they momentarily – grudgingly — give way.
I have noticed a disturbing trend several times when driving on the freeway in the last few months. Seeing emergency lights approaching from behind on the two lane highway, I pull over to the right, as do the cars ahead of me. After the ambulance has passed, I begin to increase my speed, glancing in my rear view mirror to ensure there are no “surprises” as I pull forward. At these times there has been little traffic on the highway, yet suddenly vehicles from behind are bearing down on those of us just getting moving again; it seems that as soon as the emergency vehicle passes, it becomes a race to see who can become the leader of the pack. That a second emergency vehicle may be following behind doesn’t seem to be a consideration, given how quickly drivers pull out and resume speed, and stopped or slow moving vehicles in front don’t seem to matter, either. It’s all about getting to where we’re going as soon as possible.
Allowing the vehicles in front of you to safely re-enter the roadway after an emergency vehicle has passed is not only courteous, it is the safe thing to do.
Think about it. As thoughtless as drivers can be when it comes to showing respect for emergency vehicles, the rate of accidents can only increase. Would you like to have a friend or family member – or you, yourself – suffer because an emergency vehicle is not able to get to its destination in a safe and timely manner due to the carelessness of others?
It has the potential to be a vicious circle, doesn’t it?