Traffic Tip: Move to right for authorized emergency vehicles
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Sec. 545.156. Vehicle approached by authorized emergency vehicle.
(a) On the immediate approach of an authorized emergency vehicle using audible and visual signals that meet the requirements of Sections 547.305 and 547.702, or of a police vehicle lawfully using only an audible signal, an operator, unless otherwise directed by a police officer, shall:
(1) yield the right-of-way;
(2) immediately drive to a position parallel to and as close as possible to the right-hand edge or curb of the roadway clear of any intersection; and
(3) stop and remain standing until the authorized emergency vehicle has passed.
(b) This section does not exempt the operator of an authorized emergency vehicle from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons using the highway.
Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 165, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.
Why the emphasis on this particular traffic law?
When approached by a vehicle with flashing lights and loud siren either from the front or the back the driver should always simply move to the right as much as possible and stop their vehicle.
The driver should still make this movement safely, which includes using the right blinker and checking the blind spot before moving over. Examples of common mistakes are: moving to the left, coming to a stop in whatever lane they are traveling in at the time, or continuing to drive in their lane.
If a police car or fire department vehicle is traveling using its lights and siren, it is very likely that either someone is hurt at a traffic crash or medical call, or may about to be hurt at a violent call for service. Both instances require immediate assistance, and driver's who fail to yield the right of way may increase response time of emergency vehicles when seconds count.
Most emergency vehicles will usually pass traffic on the left, even if it means traveling in oncoming traffic lanes. This is to prevent vehicles that are yielding the right of way properly from crashing into the emergency vehicle when they pull to the right.
So in the future, just remember if you see flashing lights or hear a siren, safely move to the right and stop your vehicle. This simple move will increase police, fire department and EMS efficiency and possibly save lives. Drive smart and drive safely.
If you have a traffic law question, contact Senior Patrol Officer Zac De La Rosa, Victoria Police Department Traffic Safety Unit, 361-485-3700.