Courtesy … or the Law?


Hearing the sudden wail of a siren or catching a glimpse of flashing lights in your rearview mirror can be startling. Many times I’ve seen drivers panic or disregard the speeding emergency vehicles, defiantly expecting them to pass in any space available. Is it a matter of being courteous? It really is a matter of safety for all involved as well as for those awaiting the first responders. What exactly is the law?

From DriveSmart BC:

“When an emergency vehicle approaches that is showing a flashing red light and sounding a siren you must immediately drive to a position parallel to the nearest edge of the road that is clear of an intersection and stop. You must remain stopped until the emergency vehicle has passed by.

It does not matter which direction the emergency vehicle is approaching from.

For all highways except a divided highway, the nearest edge is to the driver’s right. On a divided highway, if you are in the left hand or fast lane, the nearest edge is to the left. Otherwise, it is to the right as well. In any case, use your signal lights so the driver of the emergency vehicle knows where you are going!

Beware! Emergency vehicles often travel in packs. Never pull back onto the highway to proceed without checking to be sure that all emergency vehicles have passed by.”

Vancouver police constable Sandra Glendinning wrote in her Vancouver Sun column Behind the Blue Line, “Sometimes emergency personnel are trying to get some place to assist a comrade in need, but more often than not, we are trying to get somewhere to help you, a member of your family or a friend. And so, my thanks extend to all drivers who, everyday, yield to emergency vehicles. Thank you.


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