Victoria Police Department -Weekly Traffic Law Reminder
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This week's traffic law is found in The Texas Transportation Code, Section 545.407.
Following or Obstructing Fire Apparatus or Ambulance.
(a) An operator, unless on official business, may not follow closer than 500 feet to a fire apparatus responding to a fire alarm or drive into or park the vehicle in the block where the fire apparatus has stopped to answer a fire alarm.
(b) An operator may not:
(1) follow closer than 500 feet of an ambulance that is flashing red lights unless the operator is on official business; or
(2) drive or park the vehicle where an ambulance has been summoned for an emergency call in a manner intended to interfere with the arrival or departure of the ambulance.
Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 165, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.
Is this really a legal/valid reason to be stopped and or cited?
It is. This particular traffic law is designed to help our brother and sister Fire /EMS responder's access and egress from their scenes. Remember, the drivers of these larger than normal vehicles find it difficult to maneuver these vehicles in normal situations, let alone in an emergency entry or exit situation with injured people.
The core issue is these type of emergency vehicles need extra room to turn, back up, etc. and any vehicles within that same block could hinder and even completely obstruct a firetruck or EMS ambulance's movement.
As defined above by the Texas transportation code, an officer would be within his authority to affect a stop and take whatever enforcement action that particular officer deems appropriate for the situation. Remember, traffic enforcement is about correcting driving errors through issuing of warnings and citations as a means of education to help assure a safe driving environment for everyone.
Note some VFD firefighters are peace officers also, and have the authority to arrest and issue citations in Texas.
If you have a traffic law question, contact Sgt. Julian Huerta, Victoria Police Department Traffic Safety Unit, 361-485-3700.