Monthly Archives: July 2011

Must it be lights AND sirens when you meet an emergency vehicle?

The in basket: Dave Dahlke notes that the wording of the state law requiring us drivers to pull to the right and stop when an emergency vehicle approaches specifies that it applies to emergency vehicles using visual AND audible warnings – lights and sirens, in common parlance.

“Is there a different procedure for yielding to emergency vehicles that are running with ONLY their emergency lights flashing,” Dave asks. He went on to inquire if it’s necessary to stop in either case if there is a center turn lane between the driver and the emergency vehicle.

The out basket: If it’s physically impossible for the emergency vehicle to pull into your lane, such as on the Warren Avenue Bridge or between intersections along the Highway 303 center barrier north of Bremerton, there is no need to stop. Since an emergency vehicle may well pull into oncoming traffic across a center lane to get around congestion, pulling to the right and stopping is required if that’s all that separates the two directions of traffic.

Trooper Krista Hedstrom of the State Patrol here, and Deputy Scott Wilson of the county sheriff’s department, doubt that the wording of the law would provide a defense.

“Troopers often respond to emergency calls utilizing emergency lights only,” Krista said  “As an example, this would apply to calls where there are no other vehicles on the highway, no intersections ahead, no potential road hazards, etc. There are often times when it’s not practical to use a siren when responding to certain types of calls.

“If a driver is not responding to the overhead emergency lights, the audible siren will be activated,” she said.

“Many troopers choose to use both for liability reasons,” she added.

Scott said, “If drivers fail to yield (pull over) the siren can always be activated, should the driver not be aware of what’s coming up from behind.”

So I’d say the uncertainty would be a self-correcting problem, since the audible warning almost certainly WOULD be turned on if a vehicle is in the way and not pulling over for the flashing lights.

There would be no difference in procedure, to answer Dave’s question.


Speed limits on Greaves and Old Frontier compared

The in basket: Lucrecia Mirano of Silverdale,says, “My question is why Greaves Way, the new street in Silverdale, which is a four-lane street with divider, and no intersections or driveways (yet) has been given a maximum speed limit of 35 miles per hour, while Old Frontier, a two-lane (with) no divider and lots of driveways and intersections, is set at 40 miles per hour?

“With the Greaves incline when you are going towards the distributor (highway), it is very hard to keep your car under 35 mph,” she said.

The out basket: County Engineer Jon Brand replies, “The speed limit there is based on the design, the 8 percent longitudinal grade, horizontal curvature and safely accommodating non-motorized users. Eventual development along that road is also considered as we set speed limits.

“That being said, I’ve asked our design engineer to review the speed limit to see if it should be raised to 40 mph until more development happens along Greaves Way,” Jon said.


Damaged Olympic Drive overpass due a fix

The in basket: Mike Pizzuto says he’s noticed some damage to the concrete that comprises the Olympic Drive overpass on Highway 16  in Gig Harbor.

“When eastbound, you can see exposed rebar and missing concrete,” he said in late May, when he estimated he first noticed it two months earlier.

“It looks like someone westbound hit that overpass,” he said.

The out basket: “Back in January,” says Kelly Stowe of the state Department of Transportation, “an over-height vehicle struck the Olympic Drive overpass. A girder was damaged and needs to be replaced. This project is expected to go on

advertisement next month with work beginning in August or September.”.