Slowing or stopping for an emergency vehicle?

The in basket: Bea Bull writes, “I was recently driving south on Highway 3 past the on-ramp from Bangor. An ambulance was coming down the on-ramp with its lights flashing and siren going.

“I was quite some distance ahead and in the center lane, so stayed put until I could determine which lane the ambulance would want. When (it) went to the far left lane, I pulled to the far right lane and slowed down.

“I, and the majority of the other cars, pulled to the right lane and proceeded to drive slowly. However, three cars pulled off onto the shoulder and stopped.

“After the ambulance passed, the cars that had pulled to the shoulder and stopped couldn’t safely get back into traffic because 1) all us slow-movers were passing them and 2) behind us were cars traveling at full highway speed because they hadn’t encountered the ambulance.

“So, here’s the question…  When driving on a freeway or large divided highway where there are at least three lanes, do you move to the right lane and slow down?  Or pull off and stop?”

The out basket: Trooper Russell Winger, public information officer for the local State Patrol office, says, “RCW 46.61.210  requires motorists, upon immediate approach of an emergency vehicle, to … immediately move  to the right edge or curb of the roadway, parallel to the road and clear of any intersection and SHALL STOP and remain there until the emergency vehicle has passed.

“On multi-lane roadways, motorists should begin to safely slow and move to the far right as soon as they are aware of the approaching emergency vehicle. In reality, during times of  heavy traffic, not all vehicles will be able to make it to the shoulder to stop before the emergency vehicle passes. All motorists should be at least in the active process of slowing and moving safely to the shoulder and stopping.

“…Motorists(should) be aware that emergency vehicles often  respond to calls with multiple units. These vehicles are not always traveling closely together and motorists should not immediately upon pass of the emergency vehicle start filling in the lanes behind the passing vehicle. There could be two to three more emergency vehicles that still need to pass.

“Take your time,” he said. “No driver needs to be in that much of a hurry.

“Knowing the law, having good situational awareness and using … common sense will help keep everyone on the roadway safe in these situations,” Russell concluded..

One thought on “Slowing or stopping for an emergency vehicle?

  1. YOU and all the other jackarses pull off and stop!! Then allow everyone to safely re-enter traffic. This is really one of my pet peeves, if I ever end up going completely wacko and start shooting people it will be over this or perhaps people who speed in parking lots.

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