Emergency Vehicles and the Law

Emergency vehicles responding to urgent situations, such as fires, medical emergencies, and criminal activity, typically travel at excessive speeds and may illegally pass other cars in order to save lives. For this reason, they are not always subject to the same rules of the road that other drivers must follow. However, by law, emergency vehicle operators are supposed to drive safely. Every year, thousands of police, ambulance, and fire truck wrecks happen in the United States. Many of those injured are innocent drivers and passengers of motor vehicles. Sometimes those injured are the actual drivers and occupants of the emergency response vehicle. What happens if you are involved in a car wreck with an emergency vehicle? Do you know the law concerning them and other drivers?

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Emergency Vehicles and the Law

The most common emergency response vehicles include police cars, ambulances, and fire trucks. When these vehicles respond to emergencies, they must alert other drivers using sirens and flashing lights. These signals make it clear to everyone on and along the road that they must move out of the way as quickly as possible. Tow trucks and utility trucks are also a type of emergency vehicle. Their amber lights alert drivers when they respond to an emergency. Drivers should yield to them as they would other emergency vehicles.

What Should You Do When An Emergency Vehicle is Approaching?

Emergency vehicles

It can be alarming to see emergency vehicles approaching you at high speeds. Here are some tips on how to respond best.

Stay Calm

When you hear an emergency vehicle approaching, stay calm. Watch and listen for the signals and sirens to help locate the vehicle’s direction.

Yield to the Right

Alabama state law requires all drivers to yield the right-of-way when an emergency vehicle approaches. Be cautious, use your directional signals, and immediately move to a position parallel and as close as possible to the right of the roadway.

Stay Put

Once you have moved over, keep your foot on the brake to keep your brake lights on and show the emergency vehicle drivers you have stopped.

Follow the Law Even in an Intersection

If you are at an intersection when an emergency vehicle approaches, yield to the emergency vehicle and allow it to pass through first. Stop and remain in place until the emergency vehicle has passed—unless directed otherwise by a police officer.

Carefully Re-Enter the Roadway

Once the vehicle has passed, watch for other passing cars or emergency vehicles and safely re-enter the roadway.

Keep Your Distance Once Back on The Road

Stay at least 500 feet behind any moving emergency vehicle displaying flashing lights and a signal. Never follow after an emergency vehicle to get through a traffic light quickly.

Do Not Pass Go. Do Not Collect 200 Dollars

Never pass a moving emergency vehicle displaying flashing lights unless directed to do so by emergency personnel.

What Is the Law Regarding Drivers and Stopped Emergency Vehicles?

The Move-Over Law, now active in all 50 states, protects law enforcement officers, emergency responders, tow truck operators, and highway maintenance personnel while working or conducting business on roadways. Each state law may differ significantly on specific actions drivers should take when approaching emergency vehicles. In Alabama, the law requires all motorists to move over and slow down when they encounter emergency responders stopped along the roadway with their emergency signals activated. When a motorist sees an authorized vehicle stopped on the side of the road with its emergency lights flashing (red, blue, and amber), the motorist must move out of the lane closest to the vehicle, if possible. If it is unsafe to move over, the driver must slow down to a speed at least 15 miles per hour less than the posted speed limit—unless otherwise directed by a law enforcement officer.

A violation of the Move-Over Law is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of twenty-five dollars ($25) for a first offense and up to a fine of one hundred dollars ($100) for a third violation.

What Should You Do if Involved in a Wreck with an Emergency Vehicle?

Wrecks involving emergency vehicles can be complicated. While many car wrecks with other drivers can be easily handled by your insurance company or attorney, those with emergency vehicles are much more complicated since emergency responders are part of city or government agencies. Any type of litigation involving government agencies can be complex and tedious. If you get in a wreck with an emergency vehicle and believe you are not at fault, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer who can advise you on your case free of charge.

If you are involved in a wreck with an emergency vehicle, take the same steps that you would in any motor vehicle wreck:

  1. Call the police.
  2. If you’re injured, call an ambulance immediately.
  3. Gather as much information about the driver, the type of vehicle, and any other information about the accident as possible (license plate number, vehicle description, direction it was traveling, and location of the wreck).
  4. Take pictures of the scene and any damages.
  5. Locate any witnesses and collect their contact information.
  6. Note any security cameras at the scene or nearby businesses that may have recorded the wreck.

Emergency responders are crucial to saving lives. It’s essential to know and obey the law regarding emergency vehicles. However, if you get hit by one of these vehicles, know what to do. Take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your property.

Call Mezrano Law Firm

Mezrano Law Firm can help you navigate the challenging process of dealing with government agencies and get you what you are rightfully owed.

Call For a FREE Consultation 

Call us at (205) 654-8146 24/7 to arrange to speak with a personal injury lawyer about your case, or contact us through the website today.

Free Consultation

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