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Old January 31st, 2008, 10:28 AM   #1
Lothos
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Default emergency vehicle right of way question

After I had 3 separate incidents yesterday where an emergency vehicle was near me the other day and observing various responses i thought I'd see what you all think you should do when you encounter one in your travels. I have had several different driving level instructional courses over the years for different applications and the general gist is if you have emergency vehicles coming towards you that you should maintain motion and maneuver as necessary to allow the expedient passing the emergency vehicle(s). Not once have I ever been instructed to come to a complete stop unless I'm already stopped for another reason. Even slowing down is not universally condoned in all situations as the emergency vehicle driver is gauging their path based on the movement of traffic and its speed. So why do so many people come to a complete stop, with and without pulling to the right, for emergency vehicles? You ever been to New England and their narrow streets? Ever been in downtown New York City in rush hour?

Discuss....
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Old January 31st, 2008, 10:31 AM   #2
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Pull over to the right and stop/slow down. It kinda all depends on where you are and what the road and traffic wil allow.
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Old January 31st, 2008, 10:32 AM   #3
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I always pull over and stop, always thought thats what you are supposed to do.
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Old January 31st, 2008, 10:33 AM   #4
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im confused, is the emergency vehicle approaching from the rear, or coming towards you in the other direction?
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Old January 31st, 2008, 10:34 AM   #5
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Is it a divided highway, or a two lane road?
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Old January 31st, 2008, 10:40 AM   #6
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Yield the right-of-way to an emergency vehicle that is approaching from any direction or has stopped when it is displaying a warning.

Failure to yield or exercise due caution when passing a stopped emergency vehicle is a civil infraction.

Simple:

Don't block any intersection.

Don't stop on a curve or crest of a hill, instead, use your turn signal and proceed forward until you can safely pull over and come to a complete stop.

Don't slam on you brakes or stop directly in front of an emergency vehicle.

Slow down and move over a lane if possible. If traffic or other conditions prevent you from changing lanes, you must slow down and proceed with due caution.
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Old January 31st, 2008, 10:41 AM   #7
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As a rule you have to do nothing legally, it's actually illegal for them to run stoplights, speed and such! It's a courtisy that we do! Depending on the road, 4 lane, 2 lane, country road, expressway. They all make for having to do something different to let them get by, especially when driving an 18 wheeler!

On 4 lane roads and expressway's I just make sure I'm in the right lane and hold my speed. On 2 lane and country roads, I'll move to the right and slow down but not stop. I will not leave the roadway for any reason, If you do and you go in the ditch because of it giving right of way to an emergency vehicle is not an excuse and you'll get a ticket for it.
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Old January 31st, 2008, 10:52 AM   #8
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As a rule, people tend to be fairly universal with regards to freeways, 2 lane roads, and opposing side of divided roads. So, with that its generally the behavior of folks on the open multi lane roads and the side of a divided that has the emergency vehicle on it that tend to act like sheep. It doesn't matter whether its coming or going in this circumstance.

In most cases stopping is the worst thing to do.
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Old January 31st, 2008, 10:53 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 71jeepster View Post
As a rule you have to do nothing legally, it's actually illegal for them to run stoplights, speed and such! It's a courtisy that we do! Depending on the road, 4 lane, 2 lane, country road, expressway. They all make for having to do something different to let them get by, especially when driving an 18 wheeler!

On 4 lane roads and expressway's I just make sure I'm in the right lane and hold my speed. On 2 lane and country roads, I'll move to the right and slow down but not stop. I will not leave the roadway for any reason, If you do and you go in the ditch because of it giving right of way to an emergency vehicle is not an excuse and you'll get a ticket for it.
Uh no.. in Michigan it is the law. You can receive a ticket for failure to yield to emergency vehicles. Also for failure to move over and yield the adjoining lane on multi lane roads for stantionary emergency vehicles.

Think of it this way if it was your ass in the back of an ambulance would you want to hear "Sorry we couldn't save your leg but that guy in the Truck wouldn't let us by."
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Old January 31st, 2008, 10:57 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bhunt View Post
Uh no.. in Michigan it is the law. You can receive a ticket for failure to yield to emergency vehicles. Also for failure to move over and yield the adjoining lane on multi lane roads for stantionary emergency vehicles.

Think of it this way if it was your ass in the back of an ambulance would you want to hear "Sorry we couldn't save your leg but that guy in the Truck wouldn't let us by."
OK, if that's the case and your going thru a green light and get hit by an ambulance that you did not see or hear who is at fault? You legally had the right of way hence the green light, they had a red light and ran it. Who's fault?

I've never heard it as being a law, just something we all do. Are you saying it's legal for them to speed too?

It is illegal to impede traffic, but if you can't go anywhere then they will have to deal with it. Like I said, I will not leave the roadway to let anyone by.

Last edited by 71jeepster; January 31st, 2008 at 11:01 AM.
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Old January 31st, 2008, 11:18 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 71jeepster View Post
OK, if that's the case and your going thru a green light and get hit by an ambulance that you did not see or hear who is at fault? You legally had the right of way hence the green light, they had a red light and ran it. Who's fault?

I've never heard it as being a law, just something we all do. Are you saying it's legal for them to speed too?

It is illegal to impede traffic, but if you can't go anywhere then they will have to deal with it. Like I said, I will not leave the roadway to let anyone by.
this is michigan, there is "no fault"

more than likely you will be ticketed, regardless of whether you have the normal right of way. your "legal right of way" is usurped by your requirement to yeild the right of way to an emergency/police vehicle according to the statute already posted above.

that being said - almost universally I have seen ambulances, and fire trucks come to a nearly complete stop at a 4 way intersection if cross traffic has the green/right of way and only continue on when they have come to a complete stop.

those guys are humans too, they see the results of the physics of car collisions all too frequently - so it's human nature for them to naturally want to avoid them as well...
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Old January 31st, 2008, 11:21 AM   #12
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MICHIGAN VEHICLE CODE (EXCERPT)
Act 300 of 1949

257.653 Immediate approach of authorized emergency vehicle; duty of driver of another vehicle; duty of streetcar operator; violation as civil infraction.

Sec. 653.

(1) Upon the immediate approach of an authorized emergency vehicle equipped with not less than 1 lighted flashing, rotating, or oscillating lamp exhibiting a red or blue light visible under normal atmospheric condition from a distance of 500 feet to the front of the vehicle and when the driver is giving audible signal by siren, exhaust whistle, or bell:

(a) The driver of another vehicle shall yield the right of way and shall immediately drive to a position parallel to and as close as possible to the right-hand edge or curb of the roadway, clear of an intersection, and shall stop and remain in that position until the authorized emergency vehicle has passed, except when otherwise directed by a police officer.

(b) The operator of a streetcar shall immediately stop the car, clear of an intersection, and shall keep it in that position until the authorized emergency vehicle has passed, except when otherwise directed by a police officer.

(2) This section does not relieve the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of persons using the highway.

(3) A person who violates this section is responsible for a civil infraction.


History: 1949, Act 300, Eff. Sept. 23, 1949 ;-- Am. 1951, Act 270, Eff. Sept. 28, 1951 ;-- Am. 1964, Act 7, Imd. Eff. Mar. 20, 1964 ;-- Am. 1978, Act 510, Eff. Aug. 1, 1979
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Old January 31st, 2008, 11:26 AM   #13
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it is your responsibility to beaware of your surroundings at all times, unless it can be proven (which is highly unlikely) that the ambulance had no lights or sirens going you are at fault. Not saying you could have done anything or that I necessarily agree with it. Became law a couple years ago in Michigan.

As far as speeding goes i thnk you have to look at what type of emergency vehicle it is and is there chance of immediate serious bodily injuring, or death to the individual or public, etc...
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Old January 31st, 2008, 11:27 AM   #14
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Pull over or stop . It's much easier for an emergency vehicle to manuver around than to guess distances of moving objects ..it does not have to be a law it should be common sense.
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Old January 31st, 2008, 11:29 AM   #15
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personally I stop farthest to the right. why. the emergency drivers already have enough to contend with, without trying to figure out what decisions the idiots who are moving in front of them are doing. i am not an emergency driver but would tend to believe that driving evasively around stationery vehicles instead of moving ones would be a help. it isn't going to hurt anyone to stop on the side of the road for a few seconds and if you (other drivers) are in such a hurry perhaps they should be on the ambulance or have their house burning down. people who say that they think stopping (not on highways) is too much of a pain would not think so if their family was in need and something bad went worse because of emergency crews being held up by moving vehicles.

irregardless if on multi-lane or shouldered city roads you think you are going to keep moving and help the drivers I would guess that you are just adding to the other list of problems these emergency personnel have to deal with at the time.
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Old January 31st, 2008, 11:30 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 71jeepster View Post
OK, if that's the case and your going thru a green light and get hit by an ambulance that you did not see or hear who is at fault? You legally had the right of way hence the green light, they had a red light and ran it. Who's fault?

I've never heard it as being a law, just something we all do. Are you saying it's legal for them to speed too?

It is illegal to impede traffic, but if you can't go anywhere then they will have to deal with it. Like I said, I will not leave the roadway to let anyone by.
Even though you have a green you are still 'supposed' to look both ways before crossing.

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this is michigan, there is "no fault"

more than likely you will be ticketed, regardless of whether you have the normal right of way. your "legal right of way" is usurped by your requirement to yeild the right of way to an emergency/police vehicle according to the statute already posted above.

that being said - almost universally I have seen ambulances, and fire trucks come to a nearly complete stop at a 4 way intersection if cross traffic has the green/right of way and only continue on when they have come to a complete stop.

those guys are humans too, they see the results of the physics of car collisions all too frequently - so it's human nature for them to naturally want to avoid them as well...
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Old January 31st, 2008, 11:34 AM   #17
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fwiw, i don't consider stopping a pain. Its the fact that on two of my occasions the other day people simply stopped right in the middle of the road "ala" panic style.
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Old January 31st, 2008, 11:45 AM   #18
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Quote:
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fwiw, i don't consider stopping a pain. Its the fact that on two of my occasions the other day people simply stopped right in the middle of the road "ala" panic style.
the stop should be smooth and controlled not just jamb on the brakes. totally agree
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Old January 31st, 2008, 11:47 AM   #19
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fwiw, i don't consider stopping a pain. Its the fact that on two of my occasions the other day people simply stopped right in the middle of the road "ala" panic style.
I see that frequently too.

to be fair to 71jeepster - I wouldn't want to have to bring one of those giant 18 wheelers to a full stop either if I could avoid doing so unexpectedly.

that being said, there's a reason they sit up 6 or more feet above the rest of us in traffic - to provide that vantage point of seeing things that much farther down the road than the rest of us can
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Old January 31st, 2008, 11:48 AM   #20
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the stop should be smooth and controlled not just jamb on the brakes. totally agree
I prefer a nice smooth, sliding arc via grabbing the e-brake and yanking it as I drift the car into a full loop, and then sideways blocking two or more lanes if at all possible :tonka:
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