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What should you do when you hear a siren or see emergency lights (police, ambulance, fire truck, etc.) coming from behind you?

For your safety and the safety of emergency workers, please quickly but safely move to the RIGHT, slow down and if possible come to a stop on the side of the road. Do this as soon as you can. The ambulance, fire truck or police car will usually try to pass you on your left, using the center turning lane if available and absolutely necessary. Even if you are in the right most lane on a multi-lane road, remember to allow other cars that are trapped in the left lane to squeeze in ahead or behind you so they too can get out of the way.

What should you do when you hear a siren or see emergency lights coming from ahead of you on the opposite side of the road?

We recommend you also slow down and if possible come to a stop on the right side of the road. Do this as soon as you can.

What should you do at intersections??

Emergency vehicles need to get through. If you can get over to the right before the intersection, that would be best. If you are trapped at the intersection, stay there until the emergency vehicles pass. Don't dart out into and through the intersection to get out of the way. Move over to the right where you can.

What should you do if an emergency vehicle is coming at you on your side of the road (counter to the traffic flow)? Same as above: Move to the right, slow down and stop on the side of the road if possible.


Stay alert to the traffic conditions, and minimize extensive sound levels in your vehicle so that you can hear sirens and horns. Glance at your rear view mirror occasionally to see developing conditions behind you. Regularly look further down the road ahead of you, more than just a few car lengths, so that you can see the big picture of traffic and emergency conditions.

Don't tailgate behind an emergency vehicle, even if there is a loved one in the emergency vehicle.

If you come up on a stopped emergency vehicle, please do not speed past it in the adjoining lane. An emergency worker may open a side door into you path, or step out of their vehicle into your path. Slow down and move into the next lane away from the stopped vehicle.

Please don't "rubber neck" to observe an emergency scene because you may loose awareness of the traffic conditions in front of you.

If emergency workers are on scene, please do not stop in traffic to inquire about what happened. Promptly follow the traffic routing indications of these emergency workers, whether they are police, fire or EMS workers.

Failure to yield right of way to an emergency vehicle can result in a traffic ticket and can delay services to those in need.

These practices will help everyone involved and may avert further accidents. Remember, your turn may come when these vehicles and crews will be responding to your needs or your loved ones, and you will appreciate cooperation of your fellow motorists.

Written By:  George Cofran, BS, MBA, Paramedic


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