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  #1  
Old 10-17-2007, 12:17 PM
Napier Napier is offline
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How do you know whether to pull over for an ambulance?

This used to be a simple question. An ambulance was a red or white station wagon with a siren and a light on the roof. When one was behind you, if the light was lit and rotating and the siren was blaring, you'd pull over and let them pass.

Now they have lights all over the place and the number of lights they flash varies.

I walked by a parked ambulance on the street recently and counted 47 light fixtures on the exterior. What fraction of them should you see blinking before pulling over?

One datapoint: a couple times now I've seen ambulances with about 5 to 10 lights flashing, but no siren, pull into convenience store parking lots so the crew could go in and unhurredly buy drinks or other items. This makes me think that it isn't necessary to pull over just because there is at least one flashing.

Another datapoint: my infant grandson broke a night light fixture and drank the mysterious contents, which precipitated an ambulance coming and getting him and taking him to the hospital (which turned out fine). His mother reports that while driving him they had "about a third" of the lights flashing, and no siren. I guess this means about 15 lights. This makes me think it becomes necessary to pull over when some unknown substantial minority of the lights are flashing.

Is it some kind of sliding scale, where the easier it is to pull over, the fewer flashing lights you hold out for?

So far, I'm pulling over whenever any lights are flashing, but I notice other drivers don't, and pulling over is itself a minor hazard too. What's the recommended practice? Mid-Atlantic USA, f'rinstance?
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  #2  
Old 10-17-2007, 12:31 PM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
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I was under the impression that if there are lights or siren you ALWAYS pull over, if you can, or stay where you are so it can pass you if you can't. Since when did this become an optional thing?
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  #3  
Old 10-17-2007, 12:43 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zsofia
I was under the impression that if there are lights or siren you ALWAYS pull over, if you can, or stay where you are so it can pass you if you can't. Since when did this become an optional thing?
I agree that it is that simple. I don't think I have ever seen what the OP is talking about but I have always understood that any light on means to pull over. I can't imagine what additional light combinations would mean to the general public.
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  #4  
Old 10-17-2007, 12:47 PM
Duck Duck Goose Duck Duck Goose is offline
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In Illinois, you're required to slow down and pull over for lights--any lights--or siren, or both together. It's not optional, and you're not allowed the option of deciding "well, they only have half their lights flashing, so I don't need to pull over." I would imagine that "Mid-Atlantic" has the same rules, since most states seem to agree on the basic Rules of the Road. If you'll give us a definite state, we'll be happy to Google it for you.

"Pulling over" is only a safety hazard if you're doing it wrong. You're not supposed to immediately slam on the brakes and violently swerve into the right-hand or breakdown lane as soon as you spot an emergency vehicle with either lights or siren going. You're supposed to slow down, look around, ascertain where the emergency vehicle is going and what its potential needs are, determine what the drivers around you are doing, and then pull over, carefully.

And...[channeling your mother]...Just because you see the other children NOT pulling over doesn't mean YOU have to do it, too. If they all decided to jump off a 500-foot cliff, would you do that, too?
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  #5  
Old 10-17-2007, 12:50 PM
Keeve Keeve is offline
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I always pull over for any lights at all.

In recent years, I have noticed ambulances and police cars which have flashing lights but no siren. It has seemed to me that this occurs when the road is rather clear and/or cars are pulling over on their own with no need for the siren. My guess is that they only use the siren when they need it, out of concern for the local noise levels.
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  #6  
Old 10-17-2007, 01:03 PM
Bearflag70 Bearflag70 is offline
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I think you should reduce your speed by the same percentage of flashing lights on the ambulance. So, if only half the lights are flashing, and you are going 30 MPH, you should slow to 15 MPH. If they wanted you to stop (100% speed reduction), they would let you know by using 100% of the lights.

This may be complicated, because you may have to count the number of total lights, count the number of flashing lights, and perform percentage calculation based upon your quick observations in your rear view mirror while driving. Maybe they should have a handy card you can put in your wallet, like a "tip calculator."
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  #7  
Old 10-17-2007, 01:08 PM
Gangster Octopus Gangster Octopus is online now
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Do you have to pull over if the ambulance is coming from toward you in the opposite lane, if the lanes are separated by some physical divider?
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  #8  
Old 10-17-2007, 01:10 PM
A.R. Cane A.R. Cane is offline
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Always give emergency vehicles the benefit of the doubt, what's it gonna' cost you, a few seconds? If you have reason to believe there's abuse going on, report it, to the ambulance company, to the police, to your elected rep., or write a letter to the editor, but it's not your place to ignore an emergency vehicle, for any reason.
Police may go w/o sirens for other reasons.
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  #9  
Old 10-17-2007, 01:13 PM
A.R. Cane A.R. Cane is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gangster Octopus
Do you have to pull over if the ambulance is coming from toward you in the opposite lane, if the lanes are separated by some physical divider?
It's a judgement call, but if there's a divider, I'd say no. No divider, probably yes, as the emegency vehicle may need to get by traffic any way they can.
Better to err on the side of caution.
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  #10  
Old 10-17-2007, 01:24 PM
VunderBob VunderBob is offline
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Ambulance driver here.

If the unit has on any light other than what the car company put on in the factory, you're supposed to pull over. I drive lights only unless the patient is critical.

If the unit has *any* emergency light on and they're not on an emergency run, they're legally liable.

There is no sliding scale regarding the number of lights to use. I use them all, and the only time I've used less was late one night when driving in fog; the glare from the flashing strobe was blinding me.
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  #11  
Old 10-17-2007, 01:26 PM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
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I Always pull over for ambulance, fire truck, or police car if they have any lights flashing. I thought it was a rule -- no judgement call.

If there's a divider, I don't think it's necessary. Unless they're pulling up and stopping at the divider right in front of you, what's the point?
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  #12  
Old 10-17-2007, 01:26 PM
Lionne Lionne is offline
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I was taught in Drivers Ed that it's not necessary to pull over if there's a raised divider or median between the lanes. If no median, just painted lines, you pull over because they may need to drive over the median to avoid cars stopped at a red light, for example.

However, I've seen ambulances driver over a curbed, grassy median on a 4-lane highway because of a light - there was no other way to get around.
So I keep a sharp eye on the ambulance, and if it looks like it may need room, raised divider or no, I'll slow down and prepare to stop.
And if I see any lights at all, I pull over.

Or, what they said.

Last edited by Lionne; 10-17-2007 at 01:27 PM.. Reason: People are quick around here!
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  #13  
Old 10-17-2007, 01:27 PM
drachillix drachillix is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Napier
This used to be a simple question. An ambulance was a red or white station wagon with a siren and a light on the roof. When one was behind you, if the light was lit and rotating and the siren was blaring, you'd pull over and let them pass.

Now they have lights all over the place and the number of lights they flash varies.

I walked by a parked ambulance on the street recently and counted 47 light fixtures on the exterior. What fraction of them should you see blinking before pulling over?
Generally speaking, jurisdictions vary, but if you see red or blue, pull over. Many of those exterior lights are scene lights for lighting up next to an ambulance so you have light to work. In CA the only mandatory lighting for emergency vehicles was a single steady red light visitble for 1000 feet ahead.

Quote:
One datapoint: a couple times now I've seen ambulances with about 5 to 10 lights flashing, but no siren, pull into convenience store parking lots so the crew could go in and unhurredly buy drinks or other items. This makes me think that it isn't necessary to pull over just because there is at least one flashing.
I have heard of this happening once in my EMT days, the person in question was fired that day. It is a citable offense do do this.

Quote:
Another datapoint: my infant grandson broke a night light fixture and drank the mysterious contents, which precipitated an ambulance coming and getting him and taking him to the hospital (which turned out fine). His mother reports that while driving him they had "about a third" of the lights flashing, and no siren. I guess this means about 15 lights. This makes me think it becomes necessary to pull over when some unknown substantial minority of the lights are flashing.
At night general policy is to drop to lights only in residential areas or late night light traffic. This reduces complaints from the citizenry and avoids drawing a crowd to an already unhappy situation.

Last edited by samclem; 10-17-2007 at 07:09 PM.. Reason: fixed coding
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  #14  
Old 10-17-2007, 01:32 PM
drachillix drachillix is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CalMeacham
I Always pull over for ambulance, fire truck, or police car if they have any lights flashing. I thought it was a rule -- no judgement call.

If there's a divider, I don't think it's necessary. Unless they're pulling up and stopping at the divider right in front of you, what's the point?
I hopped dividers in many circumstances, the same light that is blocking traffic ahead of you is usually preventing direct head on traffic the other way. Rule of thumb for us was...one cycle of lights but blocked, shut down and light back up when lights change, if its going to take 2+ cycles of lights to get through, find a way around, over curbs, through parking lots, whatever.
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  #15  
Old 10-17-2007, 01:34 PM
drachillix drachillix is online now
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cleanup on post 13, could a mod fix that broken quote tag please...
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  #16  
Old 10-17-2007, 01:36 PM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
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Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by CalMeacham
I Always pull over for ambulance, fire truck, or police car if they have any lights flashing. I thought it was a rule -- no judgement call.

If there's a divider, I don't think it's necessary. Unless they're pulling up and stopping at the divider right in front of you, what's the point?



I hopped dividers in many circumstances, the same light that is blocking traffic ahead of you is usually preventing direct head on traffic the other way. Rule of thumb for us was...one cycle of lights but blocked, shut down and light back up when lights change, if its going to take 2+ cycles of lights to get through, find a way around, over curbs, through parking lots, whatever.
By "divider" I was assuming something like a "Jersey Barrier" that would be incredibly difficult to cross. I'll bet you never crossed any of those.
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  #17  
Old 10-17-2007, 01:39 PM
panache45 panache45 is online now
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I can't imagine sitting there counting the lights, while deciding whether or not to pull over. I see lights, I pull over. The only confusing thing is when I hear an approaching siren, and can't tell where it's coming from. In that case, I slow down and keep watching and listening.
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  #18  
Old 10-17-2007, 01:40 PM
EmAnJ EmAnJ is offline
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Wife of a FF just wants to interject with one of his peeves. If an emergency vehicle is approaching from behind and you and your fellow motorists are stopped at a red light, it's OK to drive into the intersection to get out of the damn way! Don't worry, you won't get a ticket!

Also, in his exeperince (although this may vary by department), if you don't stop, or you're on a freeway and don't get out of the way like you're supposed to, and the chief or senior man is in a bad mood, they'll write down your license plate number and you'll either get pulled over up the road to get a ticket or receive one in the mail.
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  #19  
Old 10-17-2007, 01:41 PM
elmwood elmwood is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duck Duck Goose
In Illinois, you're required to slow down and pull over for lights--any lights--or siren, or both together.
Does that include tow trucks, Bubba-with-a-truck snowplows and security guards?
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  #20  
Old 10-17-2007, 01:41 PM
gotpasswords gotpasswords is offline
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In California, the relevant section of the Vehicle Code is Section 21806.

Section 21806 states:
21806. Upon the immediate approach of an authorized emergency
vehicle which is sounding a siren and which has at least one lighted
lamp exhibiting red light
that is visible, under normal atmospheric
conditions, from a distance of 1,000 feet to the front of the
vehicle, the surrounding traffic shall, except as otherwise directed
by a traffic officer, do the following:
(a) (1) Except as required under paragraph (2), the driver of
every other vehicle shall yield the right-of-way and shall
immediately drive to the right-hand edge or curb of the highway,
clear of any intersection, and thereupon shall stop and remain
stopped until the authorized emergency vehicle has passed.
(2) A person driving a vehicle in an exclusive or preferential use
lane shall exit that lane immediately upon determining that the exit
can be accomplished with reasonable safety.
(b) The operator of every street car shall immediately stop the
street car, clear of any intersection, and remain stopped until the
authorized emergency vehicle has passed.
(c) All pedestrians upon the highway shall proceed to the nearest
curb or place of safety and remain there until the authorized
emergency vehicle has passed.

(italics mine)

There's no "sliding scale" and no need to count lights. There's also no automatic exemption for being on the other side of a physical barrier such as a "K-rail" or other division of lanes.

However, on this site, Lt. Ken Carpenter, commander of the Riverside Police Department Traffic Division says "The only exception is if the road's a divided highway and you're coming from the opposite direction, you don't need to pull over."

I've not been able to find anything in the Vehicle Code to back up the officer's assertation.
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  #21  
Old 10-17-2007, 01:45 PM
VunderBob VunderBob is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elmwood
Does that include tow trucks, Bubba-with-a-truck snowplows and security guards?
In Indiana and North Carolina, you're not required to pull over for flashing yellow lights. Other jurisdictions, YMMV.
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  #22  
Old 10-17-2007, 01:46 PM
Fir na tine Fir na tine is offline
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In my state if you are being approached by an emergency vehicle you must yield the right of way and pull to the right hand side of the road. If you don't you can be heavily fined.

In my state, the operator of the emergency vehicle must have on lights and sirens if they are on an emergency call. If they don't, they can be heavily fined and terminated from their jobs.

In the real world, it's not at all unusual to shut the damn siren off and get some peace and quiet if it's not absolutely necessary - say in light traffic or traffic all moving along at the same speed. If there's an accident, the emergency driver can be held liable because the siren wasn't on but it does happen.
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  #23  
Old 10-17-2007, 01:47 PM
Telemark Telemark is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elmwood
Does that include tow trucks, Bubba-with-a-truck snowplows and security guards?
Those are (usually) yellow lights and are not emergency indicators. So no, you don't need to pull over for them. I don't think there's any jurisdiction where you need to pull over for non-emergency vehicles.
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  #24  
Old 10-17-2007, 01:55 PM
scr4 scr4 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Telemark
Those are (usually) yellow lights and are not emergency indicators. So no, you don't need to pull over for them.
Are flashing lights of all other colors (white, red, blue, green, etc) considered emergency indicators?

That makes me wonder, are flashing white headlights on a bicycle technically against the law in most places? What about flashing red lights on the rear of a bike?
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  #25  
Old 10-17-2007, 02:01 PM
EmAnJ EmAnJ is offline
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Well if you can't tell the difference between an emergency vehicle light and a bicycle flashing headlight or tail light, perhaps you shouldn't be driving!
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  #26  
Old 10-17-2007, 02:04 PM
Bearflag70 Bearflag70 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gotpasswords

There's no "sliding scale" and no need to count lights.
That "light counting thing" was a joke, BTW.

Another related question is whether you should go through a red light traffic signal when an ambulance is boxed in behind you or wait for the signal to turn green. I don't know.
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  #27  
Old 10-17-2007, 02:05 PM
Wee Bairn Wee Bairn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EmAnJ
Wife of a FF just wants to interject with one of his peeves. If an emergency vehicle is approaching from behind and you and your fellow motorists are stopped at a red light, it's OK to drive into the intersection to get out of the damn way! Don't worry, you won't get a ticket!
I wouldn't be worried about a ticket, I don't think I'd want to risk getting hit by a car coming the other way that might not be aware of the ambulance.
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  #28  
Old 10-17-2007, 02:13 PM
Bearflag70 Bearflag70 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scr4
Are flashing lights of all other colors (white, red, blue, green, etc) considered emergency indicators?

That makes me wonder, are flashing white headlights on a bicycle technically against the law in most places? What about flashing red lights on the rear of a bike?
My understanding, with no cite, is that red lights (and blue lights in some states) are considered emergency colors if they face forward on a vehicle. It is illegal to have a forward facing red or blue light on a vehicle. Red brake lights are ok because they face backward.

I heard this somewhere, so it may be false. White indicates nothing except the direction of travel. White headlights face forward. White lights facing behind indicates reverse. A broken red cover on a tail light causes the light facing behind you to be white instead of red. This can cause drivers behind you to see your tail lights as white lights and they may mistakenly believe your car is coming at them instead of going the same direction.
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  #29  
Old 10-17-2007, 02:15 PM
EmAnJ EmAnJ is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wee Bairn
I wouldn't be worried about a ticket, I don't think I'd want to risk getting hit by a car coming the other way that might not be aware of the ambulance.
Obviously you still need to drive defensively in all situations.

I'm talking about instances where they will creep up a bit but will NOT cross the 'stop line' marker. Not by one inch.
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  #30  
Old 10-17-2007, 02:21 PM
Jophiel Jophiel is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scr4
Are flashing lights of all other colors (white, red, blue, green, etc) considered emergency indicators?
Red/Blue (usually with white) is the standard for police/emergency vehicles. Construction vehicles, snow plows, etc use amber/yellow. You don't need to yield for amber flashers just because they're flashing although obviously it might be a good idea for other reasons. In other words, it's the law to yield to construction vehicles entering/leaving the road but not just because they have lights. A landscaping truck with the same lights wouldn't legally require the same respect.

The only time I've seen green lights was on a private security vehicle. I'm guessing that flashing green lights as you speed down a public street doesn't do much besides get you pulled over by an actual police officer.

Last edited by Jophiel; 10-17-2007 at 02:22 PM..
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  #31  
Old 10-17-2007, 02:39 PM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
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Magistrate with lots of traffic court experience checking in; I agree with the consensus above.

Long ago, my dad was counsel to our small-town hospital. At the time, the ambulance drivers were employees of the hospital. One newbie driver went to someone's home to pick up a corpse (hours-old, truly, incontrovertibly, undoubtedly dead). The driver wanted to see what it was like to use the lights and sirens, and did, while driving the corpse to the morgue.

The corpse was in no hurry, really. The driver was fired.
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  #32  
Old 10-17-2007, 03:09 PM
Santo Rugger Santo Rugger is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jophiel
Red/Blue (usually with white) is the standard for police/emergency vehicles. Construction vehicles, snow plows, etc use amber/yellow. You don't need to yield for amber flashers just because they're flashing although obviously it might be a good idea for other reasons. In other words, it's the law to yield to construction vehicles entering/leaving the road but not just because they have lights. A landscaping truck with the same lights wouldn't legally require the same respect.

The only time I've seen green lights was on a private security vehicle. I'm guessing that flashing green lights as you speed down a public street doesn't do much besides get you pulled over by an actual police officer.
These must be regional, because I'd estimate that half the tow trucks I see have blue lights. Never red, though.

Does anybody have a cite showing that construction vehicles have different legal rights than landscape trucks?
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  #33  
Old 10-17-2007, 03:15 PM
fachverwirrt fachverwirrt is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A.R. Cane
It's a judgement call, but if there's a divider, I'd say no. No divider, probably yes, as the emegency vehicle may need to get by traffic any way they can.
Better to err on the side of caution.
My general rule for emergency vehicles coming from the other direction is this: if it's one lane in either direction, I pull over. If there's traffic coming the other direction, I pull over. If it's two lanes in either direction, especially if there's a center turn lane, and the other direction (the one the emergency vehicle is coming) is clear, I just get in the right lane. There's really no need to pull all the way over if it's clear that they're gonna stay on their side.

And while we're on the topic, if you're going to pull over for an ambulance, and if you're in the left lane, and I'm in the right lane, please check to make sure I'm out of the way before you suddenly swerve into my lane. Thanks.
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  #34  
Old 10-17-2007, 03:39 PM
Nytewatchyr Nytewatchyr is offline
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Ambulance driver and police driver here... Everyone has appeared to answer this pretty thoroughly but yes... pull over for red and/or blue lights, with or without a siren. I don't know about other colors in other states. Not to defend anyone illegally using their lights but it is quite possible to forget lights are on during the day. I've done that in the cruiser. And sometimes it's possible, depending on the ambulance and/or the light setup, to not realize that SOME are on at night... Usually you see the reflections but on the side and rear maybe not... so if you turn off some and not the others (ours are all separate switches) you could miss it until you get out and realize it...

But of course there are those who could theoretically be abusing the "power" but in reality it's our liability if we are illegally using lights/siren...
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  #35  
Old 10-17-2007, 03:44 PM
Asimovian Asimovian is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nytewatchyr
Ambulance driver and police driver here... Everyone has appeared to answer this pretty thoroughly but yes... pull over for red and/or blue lights, with or without a siren. I don't know about other colors in other states. Not to defend anyone illegally using their lights but it is quite possible to forget lights are on during the day. I've done that in the cruiser. And sometimes it's possible, depending on the ambulance and/or the light setup, to not realize that SOME are on at night... Usually you see the reflections but on the side and rear maybe not... so if you turn off some and not the others (ours are all separate switches) you could miss it until you get out and realize it...
Huh...interesting. I was always under the impression that squad cars and ambulances had lights on the inside that told you what lights were on the outside. No idea why I thought that, but it never occurred to me that the driver might not actually be aware of what lights were on.

Thanks for the ignorance-fighting!
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  #36  
Old 10-17-2007, 03:46 PM
Nytewatchyr Nytewatchyr is offline
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BTW the most annoying thing (and can be embarrassing since people don't understand) is when you are busting lights and siren to get somewhere and dispatch tells you to "disregard" or places you "in service". As in... "You are no longer needed... Stop running code". So you just busted through intersections and made people get all confused and screwed up traffic and now you have to turn everything off and turn around to go back la-dee-da...
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  #37  
Old 10-17-2007, 03:58 PM
Napier Napier is offline
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>it is that simple

Well, I feel kinda silly, posting such a dumb question. It's settled, then - you pull over for any flashing lights.

Unless they're not red.
Or not red or blue, depending on state.
Or unless they're yellow.
Or green.
Or red but facing backwards.
Or they're on the other side of a highway that's divided.
That is, unless the divider is actually one you could drive over.


>If they all decided to jump off a 500-foot cliff, would you do that, too?
It depends. If they were in the habit of doing so without any apparent disadvantage, and the rules governing cliffs presume that they would often do so, and I could get a flat tire or get my car stuck in a rut or have a slightly increased chance of geting rear-ended, by not jumping off a cliff - in other words, if the cliff situation were analogous - then, yeah, I would probably jump off a 500 foot cliff.

>Pulling over" is only a safety hazard if you're doing it wrong. You're not supposed to immediately slam on the brakes and violently swerve into the right-hand or breakdown lane as soon as you spot an emergency vehicle with either lights or siren going. You're supposed to slow down, look around, ascertain where the emergency vehicle is going and what its potential needs are, determine what the drivers around you are doing, and then pull over, carefully.

I hope not to belabor the point needlessly, but, surely things are generally safer on the road if people only pull onto the shoulder in situations where they are expected to or need to. Using the shoulder always incurs some small extra risk - isn't that why you're usually not allowed to drive there?



I'm not in such a rude rush that I want to thwart ambulances. I only think the situation is confusing enough to warrant asking the question, guilelessly.
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  #38  
Old 10-17-2007, 04:06 PM
GorillaMan GorillaMan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VunderBob
There is no sliding scale regarding the number of lights to use. I use them all, and the only time I've used less was late one night when driving in fog; the glare from the flashing strobe was blinding me.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nytewatchyr
And sometimes it's possible, depending on the ambulance and/or the light setup, to not realize that SOME are on at night... Usually you see the reflections but on the side and rear maybe not... so if you turn off some and not the others (ours are all separate switches) you could miss it until you get out and realize it...
Thanks for the informative replies. The parts I've quoted have made me wonder whether the OP's perception of vehicles using 'some of' the lights may be true, by asking, are there particular lights which you wouldn't want to use simply while driving through traffic, but perhaps when stopped in a hazardous position on a highway? The strobe in particular makes me think of ones I've seen on British police cars which can be seen from a very long distance, and that I've only ever seen when the vehicle was stopped on a main high-speed road.
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  #39  
Old 10-17-2007, 04:09 PM
Telemark Telemark is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Napier
It's settled, then - you pull over for any flashing lights.

Unless they're not red.
Or not red or blue, depending on state.
Or unless they're yellow.
Or green.
Or red but facing backwards.
Or they're on the other side of a highway that's divided.
That is, unless the divider is actually one you could drive over.
Come on, you're making this out to be much worse then it is.

Find out what the emergency light colors are in your area and you pull over for them. It's going to be red or red and blue. Everything else is a red herring, pardon the pun.

You pull over where ever you can, or move as far right and slow down if you can't stop. It's just common sense at that point when dealing with divided highways.
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  #40  
Old 10-17-2007, 04:15 PM
GorillaMan GorillaMan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Telemark
Find out what the emergency light colors are in your area and you pull over for them. It's going to be red or red and blue.
That makes sense, unless you go abroad

In all seriousness, the British system is simple

blue = emergency vehicle = pull over
yellow = slow-moving vehicle
red = addition to blue on emergency vehicles to warn oncoming traffic = slow down/prepare to stop (red = stop, see?)
green = doctor on emergency call (quite why they don't count as emergency vehicles, I don't know)

Well, simple-ish.



Ooooh, the Wikipedia entry on all this manages to get down to section 6.8.1:15, 'Colours-United States-By Service-Optional Colours'. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergency_vehicle_lighting
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  #41  
Old 10-17-2007, 04:19 PM
Bearflag70 Bearflag70 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Napier
>it is that simple

Well, I feel kinda silly, posting such a dumb question. It's settled, then - you pull over for any flashing lights.

Unless they're not red.
Or not red or blue, depending on state.
Or unless they're yellow.
Or green.
Or red but facing backwards.
Or they're on the other side of a highway that's divided.
That is, unless the divider is actually one you could drive over.

There is nothing confusing about pulling over when you see the following:

1. immediate approach of an authorized emergency vehicle;

2. sounding a siren; and

3. which has at least one lighted lamp exhibiting red light that is visible . . . from a distance of 1,000 feet to the front of the vehicle.
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  #42  
Old 10-17-2007, 04:27 PM
Jophiel Jophiel is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Santo Rugger
Does anybody have a cite showing that construction vehicles have different legal rights than landscape trucks?
I admittably phrased it poorly.

From the Illinois State Vehicle Code:
(625 ILCS 5/11‑908) (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 11‑908)
Sec. 11‑908. Vehicle approaching or entering a highway construction or maintenance area or zone.
(a) The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right of way to any authorized vehicle or pedestrian actually engaged in work upon a highway within any highway construction or maintenance area indicated by official traffic‑control devices.
[...]
(b) The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right of way to any authorized vehicle obviously and actually engaged in work upon a highway whenever the vehicle engaged in construction or maintenance work displays flashing lights as provided in Section 12‑215 of this Act.


Construction vehicles engaged in roadwork (or maintenance) must be yielded to. A dumptruck driving out of a private construction site does not. They've been doing roadwork all along my commute lately so I was mentally linking "construction" with "highway work", thus my poor wording. Mea cupla.

Last edited by Jophiel; 10-17-2007 at 04:28 PM..
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  #43  
Old 10-17-2007, 04:28 PM
GorillaMan GorillaMan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bearflag70
There is nothing confusing about pulling over when you see the following:

1. immediate approach of an authorized emergency vehicle;

2. sounding a siren; and

3. which has at least one lighted lamp exhibiting red light that is visible . . . from a distance of 1,000 feet to the front of the vehicle.
If no.1 was always obvious, 2 & 3 are redundant. It's clear to everyone here that a siren may not always be sounding (or be audible - could better sound insulation in cars be one reason they're not used as much, because they're simply not going to be heard?). Which leaves the 'single red light'. You stop driving every time you see one? Any red light? Anywhere? Just in case?
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  #44  
Old 10-17-2007, 04:33 PM
Jophiel Jophiel is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Santo Rugger
These must be regional, because I'd estimate that half the tow trucks I see have blue lights. Never red, though.
Oh, I forgot to add that, around here, blue flashing lights without any red indicates a "Community Service" vehicle. Such as parking patrol, village traffic control for school zones, etc. It's an official municipal vehicle with the authority to ticket you, but not an actual police car/officer.

As you said, your milage may vary by region.
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  #45  
Old 10-17-2007, 05:26 PM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GorillaMan
If no.1 was always obvious, 2 & 3 are redundant. It's clear to everyone here that a siren may not always be sounding (or be audible - could better sound insulation in cars be one reason they're not used as much, because they're simply not going to be heard?). Which leaves the 'single red light'. You stop driving every time you see one? Any red light? Anywhere? Just in case?
Is everybody in this thread being needlessly pedantic, or is there really confusion about what police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances look like? When I was a little kid, my mom would point and say, "Look! Firetruck!" Anybody need a refresher course?
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  #46  
Old 10-17-2007, 05:30 PM
Silver Tyger Silver Tyger is offline
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Since we have a couple of ambulance type people here, can I ask a few other questions?

Do ambulance drivers get reimbursed for gas and maintenance? Or are there special places you go?

Do you work for a certain hospital? There's a house near me that has three ambulances (I don't know if its a family or a bunch of roommates) and they always seem to head for the next town.

(Yes, I suppose I could ask them, but somehow that seems rude. And I'm cowardly.)
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  #47  
Old 10-17-2007, 05:54 PM
Bearflag70 Bearflag70 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GorillaMan
If no.1 was always obvious, 2 & 3 are redundant. It's clear to everyone here that a siren may not always be sounding (or be audible - could better sound insulation in cars be one reason they're not used as much, because they're simply not going to be heard?). Which leaves the 'single red light'. You stop driving every time you see one? Any red light? Anywhere? Just in case?
This makes no sense to me. If you see 1, 2, and 3, then pull over. I don't understand how 2 and 3 are redundant. If you eliminate 2 and 3, that leaves you with 1 only. You do not have to pull over just because you see an authorized emergency vehicle (#1) without #2 and #3. So, 2 and 3 are necessary conjunctive conditions and not redundant at all.

It also makes no sense to pull over when you see only a single red light (#3) without an authorized emergency vehicle attached (#1) and blaring a siren (#2). It's not 1, 2, or 3. It's 1, 2, and 3.

What's next? You're going to say that you cannot be certain that a vehicle bearing light and siren is duly "authorized" without the driver providing proof in the form of a notarized certification, stamped with the city seal, signed by the mayor and two witnesses, to be produced from the glove box before pulling over ... or maybe the driver can hold the certificate out the window as he drives by?
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  #48  
Old 10-17-2007, 05:56 PM
VunderBob VunderBob is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silver Tyger Girl
Since we have a couple of ambulance type people here, can I ask a few other questions?

Do ambulance drivers get reimbursed for gas and maintenance? Or are there special places you go?

Do you work for a certain hospital? There's a house near me that has three ambulances (I don't know if its a family or a bunch of roommates) and they always seem to head for the next town.

(Yes, I suppose I could ask them, but somehow that seems rude. And I'm cowardly.)
I'm a volunteer EMT with the county rescue squad. No pay or mileage; the squad has it's own fuel supply for the units. Same for the fire station I belong to.
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  #49  
Old 10-17-2007, 05:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zsofia
Is everybody in this thread being needlessly pedantic, or is there really confusion about what police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances look like?
I think so. Lots of ambulances look like small service trucks or vans; from a distance it can be hard to distinguish between an ambulance and a maintenance van, except for the color of the lights. Some private security companies use cars that look very much like police cars, except I believe they use yellow strobes because they aren't actually emergency vehicles. And unmarked police cars are only distinguishable as such by the color of the flashing lights. Fire engines used to be red, but alternative colors are becoming common. For these reasons, I think it is important to know which color lights indicate "real" emergency vehicles.
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  #50  
Old 10-17-2007, 06:19 PM
Bearflag70 Bearflag70 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scr4
I think so. Lots of ambulances look like small service trucks or vans; from a distance it can be hard to distinguish between an ambulance and a maintenance van, except for the color of the lights. Some private security companies use cars that look very much like police cars, except I believe they use yellow strobes because they aren't actually emergency vehicles. And unmarked police cars are only distinguishable as such by the color of the flashing lights. Fire engines used to be red, but alternative colors are becoming common. For these reasons, I think it is important to know which color lights indicate "real" emergency vehicles.
In California, that color is a red light to the front of the vehicle. Every security vehicle and other non-emergency service car and truck that I have seen does not have a red light to the front of the vehicle.
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