"Give Way To Lights and Sirens"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Saturday, July 28, 2018

Has Webster changed the definition of emergency?

I looked it up and, sure enough, they have not.

My reason for wondering was I find myself spending a lot of time driving the roads. I notice emergency vehicles seem to pop up frequently. Not just in Huron County but all over. From large cities to small towns. It is my understanding emergency vehicles have privileges on all roads, at all times of day or night.

The laws regarding giving way to emergency vehicles is discussed in all driver education classes and I believe it appears on drivers test. New laws regarding driving practices have been added over the years, but I know of none that have been removed.

The emergency you are most likely to encounter would be lights and perhaps sirens on police, ambulance, wrecker, tow and fire trucks. I for one am appalled that many drivers on the roads today don’t seem to understand their responsibilities regarding giving way to them.

I recently observed an ambulance on a call, with lights and siren operating, that had to pull into the on-coming lane to be able to continue down the highway. It happened to be an elderly person who failed to give way for the emergency vehicle, but I have witnessed many other drivers who did not move over and did not seem to be aware of what they are obligated to do.

There have been several reports of emergency responders being injured because a driver failed to properly react to a situation. Since 1999, 150 law enforcement officers have been killed nationwide.

Michigan’s law states; “Drivers approaching a stationary emergency vehicle displaying flashing lights, including towing and recovery vehicles, traveling in the same direction, to vacate the lane closest if safe and possible to do so, or to slow to a speed safe for weather, road and traffic conditions.”

When you encounter a fire truck, keep in mind you need to give way because lives may be in danger, plus the driver has to control a large, difficult-to-maneuver vehicle. If you come upon a fire truck with its hoses extended, wait until you are directed to proceed.

The Office of Highway Safety Planning publishes a pamphlet online, “Save a Life — Give a Lane” MOVE OVER. It describes Michigan’s official emergency vehicle caution law with questions and answers that point out every driver’s obligation. It would be wise for all of us to be aware of the penalties stated in the booklet. “A motorist found responsible for violating the Move Over Law is guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to four points on their driver’s license and fines and fees of approximately $150. Motorists face enhanced penalties of up to 15 years in prison and/or a $7,500 fine if the violation causes injury or death to a police officer, firefighter, or other emergency response personnel.”

Because of the high number of injuries and deaths, a national coalition of emergency responders has been formed. They provide a website, www.moveoverusa.com, with a graphic of states, and Michigan’s law may also be reviewed on that site.

As I see it, you should realize if you are approaching an emergency vehicle with flashing lights, or if one is parked along the shoulder or coming up behind you, it is imperative you give way. They may be traveling to a life-threatening event that makes their speed in arrival vital.

Remember: Someday you may be the emergency they are headed to help.

Return to Home Page of Tipsforboating.com


Copyright © Fred Davis. All rights reserved.