Press release from the Boone Police Department:
Sept. 7, 2012. Every year there are thousands of accidents involving Emergency Service (Law Enforcement, Fire & EMS) vehicles when responding to emergency calls, resulting in injuries and death. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), since 1984, motor vehicle collisions annually account for 25 percent of firefighter fatalities nationally. Across the nation and here in Watauga County emergency responders are encountering daily drivers that are unaware of what to do when an emergency vehicle with sirens and lights approaches them. Numerous times the actions caused by their lack of knowledge makes it more hazardous for the emergency responder. NC General Statute 20-157 contains the laws pertaining to driving and encountering an emergency service vehicle. This statute includes everything from what to do when an emergency vehicle approaches you, not driving over a fire hose, how to pass a stopped emergency vehicle, etc. This includes the ‘Move Over” law.
When a vehicles approaches you (from either direction):
• Pull to the right and come to a complete stop.
• If driving on a high speed road, slow down as much as possible.
• If you are in the left lane, pull into the right lane as traffic allows.
• If you cannot move to the right because of another vehicle or obstacle, come to a stop. This allows the driver of the emergency vehicle to know what you are doing and allows the driver to anticipate where to drive.
• On a two lane or four lane highways or street without barriers, both sides of traffic should pull to the right.
• If in a curve please drive all the way through the curve before you stop.
When passing a stopped emergency vehicle:
• Show caution if driving by an emergency service vehicle stopped within 12 feet of the roadway by moving over to create an empty safety lane to protect those working.
• Do not move to the left.
• Do not play your radio so loudly that you can’t hear sirens or wear head phones/ear buds when driving.
• Do not pull left into the center lane when emergency vehicles are approaching.
• Do not speed up to make the green light or turn left in front of oncoming emergency vehicles.
• Do not drive through a red light or a stop sign when emergency vehicles approach from behind.
• Do not ignore the emergency vehicle by continuing to drive.
As emergency vehicle drivers, we are trained to move to the left until we find an open clear lane of travel. Therefore, by motorist moving to the right more travel lanes open for Emergency Service drivers. We are trained to stop at all red lights, wait until the intersection clears and then move through. We are extremely fortunate here in Watauga County of the rarity of collisions involving Emergency Service vehicles. We want to ultimately eliminate all accidents with Emergency Vehicles. Therefore, the Emergency Agencies within Watauga County are collectively engaging in a ‘pro-active’ campaign to increase driver awareness. We ask you as the motoring public to join us in this life-saving campaign.