Victoria Police Department -Weekly Traffic Law Reminder
March 5, 2011 at 5:01 p.m.
Updated March 4, 2011 at 9:05 p.m.
By Sgt. Julian Huerta
This week's traffic law is found in The Texas Transportation Code, section
Passing authorized emergency vehicle
(a) On approaching a stationary authorized emergency vehicle using visual signals that meet the requirements of Sections 547.305 and 547.702, an operator, unless otherwise directed by a police officer, shall:
(1) Vacate the lane closest to the emergency vehicle when driving on a highway with two or more lanes traveling in the direction of the emergency vehicle; or
(2) Slow to a speed not to exceed:
(A) 20 miles per hour less than the posted speed limit when the posted speed limit is 25 miles per hour or more; or
(B) 5 miles per hour when the posted speed limit is less than 25 miles per hour.
Is this a valid or legal reason to be stopped and issued a citation, or even arrested?
If anyone has ever been to the Texas Department of Public Safety training academy in Austin, you will find a memorial wall consisting of well over 20 DPS trooper photos. Unfortunately, all the officers depicted on that wall are deceased, and the majority were killed on duty in a traffic related matter - be it directing traffic, or on a traffic stop. So as you can see, this issue of passing an emergency vehicle and not slowing down as required is a major safety issue for those serving in this in this field. So please, when you see an emergency vehicle displaying its emergency lights along the roadway, whether it's a fire, traffic stop, or accident scene; slow down as you come up and pass the vehicles.
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.
Voluntary compliance is the goal of traffic enforcement whether it is achieved with a warning or citation\arrest depends on the severity of the violation and the individual officers discretion.
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.
If you have a traffic law question, contact Sgt. Julian Huerta, Victoria Police Department Traffic Safety Unit, 361-485-3700.