Contact Street Smarts
Pull to the right when red lights flash, sirens wail
Emergency responders would like Street Smarts to remind motorists to merge to the right when they see lights and sirens coming their way. According to the California Driver Handbook, “motorists must yield the right of way to any police car, fire engine, ambulance or other emergency vehicle using a siren and red lights.” When you see flashing red lights and hear the wail of a siren, “drive as close to the right edge of the road as possible and stop until the emergency vehicle(s) has passed,” the handbook states. Do not stop in an intersection when you encounter an emergency vehicle. Rather, continue through the intersection and make your way to the right side of the road and stop as soon as possible so the rescuers can pass. Emergency responders also would like motorists to not stop in the middle of the street or pull to the left. This creates a dangerous situation for all road users because no one knows which direction the other is going to go. While the motoring public is legally obligated to pull right so rescuers can drive on the left, sometimes emergency vehicle will travel on the wrong side of the road to get to their destination. Sometimes, they will use a loud speaker to tell drivers which way to go if their path is blocked. Motorists must obey any instructions given by police or fire fighters, even if the orders they are giving conflict with traffic signs, signals or laws. One more thing, it is illegal to follow within 300 feet of any emergency vehicle that’s on its way to an emergency call. Sight-seers can get in the rescuers' way and hinder their life-saving efforts. Traveling to the scene of a fire, accident or other disaster can get you arrested. Source: California Driver Handbook and local emergency responders.