Writer asks about proper guidelines for yielding to emergency vehicles

Posted 30 March 2015 at 12:00 am


For the sake of our wonderful emergency response personnel, I personally think it would be great if someone could publish general guidelines for what to do at an intersection when you hear/see an approaching emergency vehicle.

I’m sure there are many lists of rules and procedures out there, but a few local tips would be very much appreciated! I know I’ve been confused. And I’ve seen a few indications that other drivers may be a bit unsure of the best way to yield to our emergency vehicles, particularly fire trucks.

I understand what to do in general, but one instance has me puzzled (and I’ve encountered it multiple times). What is the proper procedure when you’re part of a line of cars stopped at the traffic light at the corner of Route 98 & Route 31? Last summer I was at a loss what to do as some cars remained in their lane, others attempted to pull over onto the (very small!) shoulder in front of the plaza, and still others proceeded as if nothing was happening.

If you are on the “red side” of the light, do you attempt to maneuver out of the line and onto the shoulder?

If you are on the “green side” of the light, do you proceed through as normal (assuming there isn’t a flashing wailing vehicle heading at you!) in an attempt to not block the intersection, or do you treat it as if the light is still red and stay stopped/pull onto the shoulder?

Obviously if the vehicle is oncoming, it’s easier to respond, but what about when it’s coming up behind me, especially if I can only hear it but can’t see it yet?

I realize these may be dumb questions, but since our fire station is north of the corner of 98 & 31, and I do a lot of driving on 98, I keep finding myself in a line of cars with a large fire truck behind us, and none of us are quite sure what our responsibility is!

As I said before, I’m sure I could look online and find a general answer, but I thought perhaps our local fire department might welcome an opportunity to give our community a refresher course on how we can best help them.

Thank you!

Elianna Quatro