Traffic Tip: Passing authorized emergency vehicle
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By Julian Huerta This week's traffic law is found in The Texas Transportation Code, section
Sec. 545.157. 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, or a stationary tow truck using equipment authorized by section 547.305(d) ( Revised September 2011) an operator, unless otherwise directed by a police officer, shall:
(1) Vacate the lane closest to the emergency vehicle or tow truck when driving on a highway with two or more lanes traveling in the direction of the emergency vehicle or tow truck 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) five miles per hour when the posted speed limit is less than 25 miles per hour.
Why the emphasis on this particular traffic law?
We are revisiting this law because it was recently updated in the last legislative session to include tow trucks. Much like emergency vehicles, there have been unnecessary injuries and and even deaths caused by people failing to move over or slow down when approaching a tow truck worker attending to a vehicle on the roadway.
Also, if anyone has ever been to the Texas Department of Public Safety training academy in Austin, you will find a memorial wall consisting of more than 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 or tow truck, and not slowing down as required is a major safety issue for those serving in these fields. 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.
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.