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  #1  
Old 09-06-2009, 03:17 PM
Duckster Duckster is offline
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Can An Emergency Vehicle "Force" You To Break The Law?

Yes, jurisdictions vary the actual legal authority.

The Setup

A cross intersection. Two lanes both directions, divided roadway (center median strips with curbs) with an additional left turn lane in all directions. Controlled by traffic signals, including left turn arrows. This is a very busy intersection, even on a quiet Sunday.

The Scenario

I witnessed this this morning as I was picking up the Sunday newspaper. I was not in a vehicle and had full view of the entire intersection.

What Happened

The light was green for the cross traffic. Traffic in the primary street was backed up at least five to seven cars in both lanes, in both directions, with at least two cars waiting in the left turn lanes in both directions.

Am ambulance running lights and siren approached the intersection in the stopped street. It moved into the left turn lane (behind the two stopped vehicles) and changed the siren to repeated on off use of the siren horn (instead of the usual woo-woo siren). The ambulance driver also laid on his vehicle horn as well. The two stopped turning vehicles were "forced" into making premature left hand turns, while the cross traffic was running and had a green light. This put both drivers into harm's way. Only after the ambulance was visible to the cross traffic did the cross traffic traffic stop and allow the ambulance through, which did not turn but moved back into the main lane of traffic and proceeded on it way. (The two vehicles waiting to turn -- stopped by red arrows/red lights -- managed to get through traffic and there were no accidents.)

Questions

Can am emergency vehicle force you to break the law and put you in harm's way like this? Had a cross traffic vehicle hit a turning vehicle "forced" (intimidated?) into the intersection by the ambulance, would the ambulance be at fault?

It has always been my understanding that while every driver must give way to an emergency vehicle (running lights and siren) whenever possible, however, if that is not possible, then either stop right where you are so the emergency vehicle will go around you, or said emergency vehicle must wait until the other vehicles can legally get out of the way.

Last edited by Duckster; 09-06-2009 at 03:18 PM..
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  #2  
Old 09-06-2009, 03:40 PM
The Great Philosopher The Great Philosopher is offline
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I don't think an ambulance can "force" you to do anything, whether it involves breaking the law or not - you don't legally have to make any effort to facilitate an ambulance's journey, it's just obvious that it's the right thing to do. So I suspect the answer is no: if those cars had decided to sit in front of the ambulance blocking it, there's nothing the ambulance could do. But given that there could have been someone dying in the back of the ambulance, personally I'd be willing to risk some dodgy driving to let it through.
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  #3  
Old 09-06-2009, 03:44 PM
The Great Philosopher The Great Philosopher is offline
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Having said that I just spoke to a friend who seems to think that it is actually against the law to not make way for an ambulance. I will have to wait for those more knowledgeable than me to come along to find out who's right.
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Old 09-06-2009, 03:47 PM
ZenBeam ZenBeam is offline
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I question the premise that the two cars which turned were breaking the law. Certainly they had a duty to only proceed if it was safe to. I was in a similar situation, stopped at a red once. I made sure it was safe, proceeded through the intersection and pulled over to the left right and let the ambulance through. I had no fear of getting a ticket (although I guess it was possible).

Last edited by ZenBeam; 09-06-2009 at 03:49 PM..
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  #5  
Old 09-06-2009, 04:07 PM
johnpost johnpost is offline
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depends on where you are.

you can run red lights if you are in a funeral procession and the lead car went through the intersection.

you can run red lights if you make a path for an emergency vehicle doing the siren/lights, you treat it as a yield sign situation.

you could get a ticket for not making way for an emergency vehicle, though you might get off claiming you didn't think you could legally (long chance) or that you didn't think could safely (better chance).
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  #6  
Old 09-06-2009, 04:26 PM
BorgHunter BorgHunter is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Great Philosopher View Post
Having said that I just spoke to a friend who seems to think that it is actually against the law to not make way for an ambulance. I will have to wait for those more knowledgeable than me to come along to find out who's right.
I can't speak for all localities, but you are required to yield right-of-way to emergency vehicles in Illinois:
Quote:
(625 ILCS 5/11‑907) (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 11‑907)
Sec. 11‑907. Operation of vehicles and streetcars on approach of authorized emergency vehicles.
(a) Upon the immediate approach of an authorized emergency vehicle making use of audible and visual signals meeting the requirements of this Code or a police vehicle properly and lawfully making use of an audible or visual signal,
(1) the driver of every other vehicle shall yield the right‑of‑way and shall immediately drive to a position parallel to, and as close as possible to, the right‑hand edge or curb of the highway clear of any intersection and shall, if necessary to permit the safe passage of the emergency vehicle, stop and remain in such position until the authorized emergency vehicle has passed, unless otherwise directed by a police officer
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  #7  
Old 09-06-2009, 04:31 PM
Quartz Quartz is offline
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Here in the U.K., people have been prosecuted for going through red lights to allow emergency vehicles to pass. This has not endeared the police to the public.
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Old 09-06-2009, 04:40 PM
Uncertain Uncertain is offline
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Originally Posted by johnpost View Post
depends on where you are.

you can run red lights if you are in a funeral procession and the lead car went through the intersection.
Laws make exceptions for funeral processions? I had assumed that this sort of thing was just a courtesy extended by drivers and law enforcement.
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  #9  
Old 09-06-2009, 04:51 PM
pulykamell pulykamell is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quartz View Post
Here in the U.K., people have been prosecuted for going through red lights to allow emergency vehicles to pass. This has not endeared the police to the public.
Wow. That just boggles my mind.
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  #10  
Old 09-06-2009, 04:52 PM
BorgHunter BorgHunter is offline
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Originally Posted by Uncertain View Post
Laws make exceptions for funeral processions? I had assumed that this sort of thing was just a courtesy extended by drivers and law enforcement.
And just to quote Illinois law again, yes:
Quote:
(625 ILCS 5/11‑1420) (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 11‑1420)
Sec. 11‑1420. Funeral processions.
(a) Funeral processions have the right‑of‑way at intersections when vehicles comprising such procession have their headlights lighted, subject to the following conditions and exceptions:
1. Operators of vehicles in a funeral procession shall yield the right‑of‑way upon the approach of an authorized emergency vehicle giving an audible or visible signal;
2. Operators of vehicles in a funeral procession shall yield the right‑of‑way when directed to do so by a traffic officer;
3. The operator of the leading vehicle in a funeral procession shall comply with stop signs and traffic control signals but when the leading vehicle has proceeded across an intersection in accordance with such signal or after stopping as required by the stop sign, all vehicles in such procession may proceed without stopping, regardless of the sign or signal and the leading vehicle and the vehicles in procession shall proceed with due caution.

Last edited by BorgHunter; 09-06-2009 at 04:53 PM..
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  #11  
Old 09-06-2009, 05:03 PM
Duckster Duckster is offline
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Just checked with Washington State law:

Quote:
(4) The foregoing provisions shall not relieve the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons, nor shall such provisions protect the driver from the consequences of his reckless disregard for the safety of others.
And here:

Quote:
(1) Upon the immediate approach of an authorized emergency vehicle making use of audible and visual signals meeting the requirements of RCW 46.37.190, or of a police vehicle properly and lawfully making use of an audible signal only the driver of every other vehicle shall yield the right-of-way and shall 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 shall stop and remain in such position until the authorized emergency vehicle has passed, except when otherwise directed by a police officer.

(2) This section shall not operate to relieve the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons using the highway.
My non-lawyer opinion is the ambulance driver was in the wrong to "force" the drivers to move.

I would have sat there and waited until I could legally move.

Last edited by Duckster; 09-06-2009 at 05:04 PM..
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  #12  
Old 09-06-2009, 05:10 PM
johnpost johnpost is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnpost View Post
you can run red lights if you are in a funeral procession and the lead car went through the intersection.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncertain View Post
Laws make exceptions for funeral processions? I had assumed that this sort of thing was just a courtesy extended by drivers and law enforcement.
in my state it is a specific exception that only the lead car has to obey the signal and other drivers cannot disrupt the following cars.
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  #13  
Old 09-06-2009, 05:14 PM
ZenBeam ZenBeam is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duckster View Post
Just checked with Washington State law:



And here:



My non-lawyer opinion is the ambulance driver was in the wrong to "force" the drivers to move.

I would have sat there and waited until I could legally move.
I don't see your reasoning.

The ambulance driver did not violate provisions (2) and (4), and (1) supports that the drivers were not breaking the law. It's not like the ambulance physically pushed the cars into the intersection.
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  #14  
Old 09-06-2009, 06:32 PM
Candyman74 Candyman74 is offline
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You are not required to put yourself at risk. Making such a turn is not required. You should move aside - if you can - but you should do nothing dangerous.

You *should* yield right of way, and try to accomodate the emergency vehicle's progress as much as posisble without making any dangerous maneuvers. The exact phrasing of any given jurisdiction's laws will vary, but all will tend towards saying pretty much that.

In practice, you'll never be prosecuted for such things. Just do what you feel is reasonable.

Last edited by Candyman74; 09-06-2009 at 06:34 PM..
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  #15  
Old 09-06-2009, 06:32 PM
chaoticbear chaoticbear is offline
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I don't know about the legality of the situation, but from a safety standpoint, the two cars turning left should have been OK, right? I imagine the cross traffic should have stopped for the ambulance anyway?

(curious to find out the definite legal answer)
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  #16  
Old 09-06-2009, 06:36 PM
Candyman74 Candyman74 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quartz View Post
Here in the U.K., people have been prosecuted for going through red lights to allow emergency vehicles to pass. This has not endeared the police to the public.
Cite? I find that hard to believe. Maybe it happened once due to poor judgement by some rookie copper and the media kicked up a shitstorm about it, but as a blanket statement I find that very misleading.
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  #17  
Old 09-06-2009, 07:38 PM
IAmNotSpartacus IAmNotSpartacus is offline
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Originally Posted by The Great Philosopher View Post
you don't legally have to make any effort to facilitate an ambulance's journey, it's just obvious that it's the right thing to do.
No, actually I am pretty sure it's the law. There is no doubt that here in California you are shall yield right of way.

Are you from the US? I have a troubling time believing there is any place in the US does not require motorists to facilitate an ambulance's journey* as best they can by yielding rights of way. . .

*A genuine emergency while running a Code 3 with full lights and siren.
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  #18  
Old 09-06-2009, 07:39 PM
kunilou kunilou is offline
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Here's what the Missouri Driver Guide says:

Quote:
You must yield the right-of-way to police, fire, ambulance or any other emergency vehicles using a siren or air horen, and a red or blue flashing light. Pull over to the right edge of the road, or as near to the right as possible, when you see or hear and emergency vehicle approaching from any direction. If you are in an intersection, drive through the intersection before you pull over.
Emphasis added.
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  #19  
Old 09-06-2009, 08:17 PM
Polycarp Polycarp is offline
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While there may be nuances across 65 jurisdictions in the U.S. and Canada, in general it's incorrect to suggest that the driver of an emergency vehicle can compel you to "break the law" -- for the simple reason that states' rules of the road specifically allow for the overriding of an automated traffic control device like a stop sign or traffic light by direction of a police or peace officer or, usually, the direction of an authorized emergency responder in the process of dealing with an emergency. In short, you are not "running a red light" when you obey a policeman's or fireman's direction to proceed despite what the light may be stuck on. Likewise, an ambulance, police car, fire engine, or rescue vehicle proceeding "Code 3" (lights and siren) n response to an emergency supersedes obedience to a non-emergency traffic-control device.

I recall taking the written test for an operator's license when we moved here, my New York license having expired so I needed to get a 'new' license rather than transferring my NY one. One question was:

When if ever is it legal to go through a red light?

A. Never
B. Whenever it's safe to do so
C. When directed to do so by a peace officer
D. After coming to a full stop and yielding to other traffic.

The answer, of course, is "C" -- it does not specify the "right on red" turn.
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Old 09-06-2009, 08:47 PM
VunderBob VunderBob is offline
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EMT and fireman checking in, with North Carolina experience. Other jurisdictions YMMV.

If I'm running hot and get caught at a traffic light behind traffic, I cannot compel you to make an illegal move to get out of my way. As an ambulance driver, even with a critical patient in back, I'm not going to force the issue if I'm stuck behind you, but I will make some pretty dodgey moves to get around the mass of cars *IF* I see a hole I can get through.

I have run stop lights, but I'll stop first, then proceed through. I also treat green lights as though they will turn yellow before I get there. A wrecked unit does my patient no good.

I will cut people some slack for not yielding if there's not a safe way to do it, such as in a sharp curve or narrow shoulders, but I also get very POed if there's a mile of wide straightaway with no oncoming traffic, and they won't pull over. I have called for police intercepts on both failure to yield (once) and the wake riders (twice), who try to pretend they're family following behind to take advantage of my lights.

The people in the OP made their moves at their own risk, and I would not have moved if I was in their situation. When the light turns green and the intersection clears is the proper time to get out of the way.

Last edited by VunderBob; 09-06-2009 at 08:49 PM..
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  #21  
Old 09-07-2009, 12:15 AM
t-bonham@scc.net t-bonham@scc.net is offline
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Originally Posted by IAmNotSpartacus View Post
Are you from the US? I have a troubling time believing there is any place in the US does not require motorists to facilitate an ambulance's journey* as best they can by yielding rights of way. . .

*A genuine emergency while running a Code 3 with full lights and siren.
Here in Minnesota, they'll even come out later to get you for refusing to make way for emergency vehicles.

We've had cases where drivers who just sat there obstructing a Fire Truck had their license numbers taken down and reported to the police by the Fire Department, and the police sent a car out to the home address of that vehicle to deliver a ticket -- a very expensive one!
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  #22  
Old 09-07-2009, 02:22 AM
Quartz Quartz is offline
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Originally Posted by Candyman74 View Post
Cite? I find that hard to believe.
Believe it. After a press outcry his fine was revoked.

Comments from some sensible policemen here.

I have to go to work now, but there are more a quick Google away.
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  #23  
Old 09-07-2009, 03:51 AM
Wallenstein Wallenstein is offline
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Originally Posted by Quartz View Post
Believe it. After a press outcry his fine was revoked.

Comments from some sensible policemen here.

I have to go to work now, but there are more a quick Google away.
That doesn't answer whether it's technically legal or not. It sounds like it's not, but that the police will should use common sense and not prosecute after the fact. If the Lexus driver had caused an accident - run a pedestrian over, for example - where does the liability lie?

It's one thing for a policeman to say "we use our judgement", but I surely retain a duty of care and can't be under a complusion to break the law. So if I am unwilling to break the law to allow an emergncy vehicle to pass (for whatever reason), under UK law is there any penalty that I can suffer (this assumes that the only way to let the vehicle pass would be to break the law)?
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  #24  
Old 09-07-2009, 06:02 AM
picunurse picunurse is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZenBeam View Post
I don't see your reasoning.

The ambulance driver did not violate provisions (2) and (4), and (1) supports that the drivers were not breaking the law. It's not like the ambulance physically pushed the cars into the intersection.
Quote:
duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons using the highway.
Yes, they did break the law. They were unable to move the the RIGHT side of the road. The ambulance endangered them by forcing them into possible on-coming traffic.

I was in this situation on a divided street ( wasn't obligated to stop unless the emergency vehicle was on my side of the street). I was the "on-coming" with a green light. The ambulance forced a car to turn left into me. The ambulance driver got the ticket.

Last edited by picunurse; 09-07-2009 at 06:06 AM..
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  #25  
Old 09-07-2009, 08:10 AM
ZenBeam ZenBeam is offline
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Originally Posted by picunurse View Post
Yes, they did break the law. They were unable to move the the RIGHT side of the road. The ambulance endangered them by forcing them into possible on-coming traffic.

I was in this situation on a divided street ( wasn't obligated to stop unless the emergency vehicle was on my side of the street). I was the "on-coming" with a green light. The ambulance forced a car to turn left into me. The ambulance driver got the ticket.
Did the ambulance actually push the car into the intersection? Otherwise, what did the driver get a ticket for? Having his lights and siren on?

Also, as I understand it, only on a limited access highway are you not required to stop. What if the ambulance was turning left at that intersection?
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  #26  
Old 09-07-2009, 10:23 AM
adhay adhay is offline
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Originally Posted by Duckster View Post
Yes, jurisdictions vary the actual legal authority.
...
Only after the ambulance was visible to the cross traffic did the cross traffic traffic stop and allow the ambulance through, which did not turn but moved back into the main lane of traffic and proceeded on it way.
[emphasis mine]

I don't care what the jurisdiction, the ambulance driver needs more training. Maybe a safety sensitivity course.

If what he did isn't illegal, it ought to be.

The folks who made the turn across traffic? IANAL, but I did teach driving and if I can't do something safely, I don't do it.
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  #27  
Old 09-07-2009, 10:42 AM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
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In Ohio, no one can legally force you to break a traffic law. When you yield to emergency vehicles, you must do so in a safe and responsible manner. I occasionally have drivers appear before me in court who are charged with running a red light and who tell me that they were only trying to get out of the way of an ambulance, police car or fire truck. If there was no other way for them to get out of the way, and if I believe them, I find them not guilty. It rarely comes up, though.
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  #28  
Old 09-07-2009, 12:08 PM
EmAnJ EmAnJ is offline
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This is what my firefighter husband has told me: They can't force you to do something illegal, but if it's safe for you to do so, get out of the way. He'd also be very surprised if any officer handed out a ticket to anyone for doing anything illegal (such as entering the intersection against a red) when trying to give right of way to an emergency vehicle.

On that note, if there is an accident in an intersection involving an emergency vehicle that is hot and another vehicle, and it was the emergency vehicle that ran the red, it's the emergency vehicles fault.

Also, as stated, they do write down plate numbers of those that blatantly fail to yield to an emergency vehicle and call the police to follow up.
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Old 09-07-2009, 12:29 PM
BubbaDog BubbaDog is offline
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I have been "pushed" through intersections by emergency vehicles at least five times in my life. I ave no idea what the odds of that happening are.

Each time I was in the left turn lane and each time I laid on my horn and just edged out into cross traffic until it stopped whereby I completed my left turn and the ambulance continued forward through the intersection.

I always thought that what I did was legal and possibly mandatory.

Of course the possibility that it isn't legal is unimportant. I'll do it again regardless.
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  #30  
Old 09-07-2009, 01:05 PM
picunurse picunurse is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZenBeam View Post
Did the ambulance actually push the car into the intersection? Otherwise, what did the driver get a ticket for? Having his lights and siren on?

Also, as I understand it, only on a limited access highway are you not required to stop. What if the ambulance was turning left at that intersection?
He used the loud speaker to tell the car to get out of the way. There was no other way to do so but to turn left. There were cars to his right and he was in the turn lane, waiting for his green arrow. (The lane ended on the other side of the intersection.)

Since the ambulance stopped to see if I was alright, and he had no one in the back He may have been ticketed for running code without reason.

If the ambulance was turning it could and would have used his opticom to change the light to red, so I would no longer have the right of way.
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  #31  
Old 09-07-2009, 06:08 PM
Gbro Gbro is offline
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As an Ambulance driver/attendant (mostly attendant) I believe there is some miss-understanding of the law(s).
1st of all, these laws are universal to all states.
The law requires a motor vehicle to proceed through the intersection(when in the intersection) and then stop to yield to the emergency vehicle.
Otherwise without that clarification (that is misunderstood some drivers would sit still and block the intersection.
I have had many drivers proceed into an intersection for me in the past, and now if I see a clogged up intersection ahead, I will kill the light's and siren as to now cause problems.
With the quality of care on board today's ambulances a shot delay at a clogged up intersection shouldn't make it nessesary to push others around and cause them to be in a hazardous situation. If we have a serious/unstable Pt. We will have what is called an "ALS Intercept" .

One of the newer changes that scare the crud out of me is the pulling over to the nearest shoulder. The younger drivers learn this, but the old timers always think "RIGHT" even after defensive driving courses. Its just to ingrained in them.
Running Code 3 is very dangerous for all!
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Old 09-07-2009, 06:21 PM
BiblioCat BiblioCat is offline
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Originally Posted by VunderBob View Post
If I'm running hot and get caught at a traffic light behind traffic, I cannot compel you to make an illegal move to get out of my way. As an ambulance driver, even with a critical patient in back, I'm not going to force the issue if I'm stuck behind you, but I will make some pretty dodgey moves to get around the mass of cars *IF* I see a hole I can get through.

I have run stop lights, but I'll stop first, then proceed through. I also treat green lights as though they will turn yellow before I get there. A wrecked unit does my patient no good.
Another EMT checking in, but in Maryland, so of course YMMV.
This is pretty much how it works here. I am not supposed to force other drivers to make illegal or unsafe maneuvers to get out of my way.
If I'm approaching a red light, I'm required by law to stop, and make sure the cross traffic is aware of me before proceeding.
If I'm coming up on a congested intersection, I'll usually try to move to the right because there's usually more room, with the shoulder. Drivers in the right lanes have more options (turning down the side street) other than heading out into the intersection. The left side might have a median that I can't go over.
Part of my driver's training included looking way ahead and being aware of upcoming situations.
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  #33  
Old 09-07-2009, 08:37 PM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gbro View Post
...I have had many drivers proceed into an intersection for me in the past, and now if I see a clogged up intersection ahead, I will kill the light's and siren as to now cause problems....
I presume you meant "not."
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  #34  
Old 09-07-2009, 08:37 PM
drachillix drachillix is offline
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Originally Posted by johnpost View Post
you could get a ticket for not making way for an emergency vehicle, though you might get off claiming you didn't think you could legally (long chance) or that you didn't think could safely (better chance).
Ex CA ambulance driver here, we would usually shut down and let the lights cycle. Yeilding right of way is about yeilding right of way you have to give. You do not have right of way if you are facing a red light therefore you cannot yeild it.
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Old 09-07-2009, 10:03 PM
sweetie pea sweetie pea is offline
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This is a bit of a sidenote, but recently I had an experience that amazed me. I currently live in a rural region, and was driving in what qualifies here as a metropolis (well under 20,000 people). I was in the left turn lane, first in line. It was the main drag so there were 4 other lanes of traffic. As I waited for a green light, I could hear an ambulance. Because of some oddity of the land layout, I could not tell whether the sound was coming from behind me (where my view was blocked by other cars) or from my left. Either way, I felt I had to stay put. The sound got closer, the light turned green, and NO ONE, not a soul, moved. Not only that, but no one honked to tell us to move. I have to assume quite a few of the other drivers facing my direction were experiencing the same confusion I was regarding where the sound was coming from. The oncoming traffic was also staying put, but of course they had the advantage of being able to possibly see the ambulance lights. All of a sudden, the ambulance appeared, from behind me, but on my left, in the ONCOMING TRAFFIC'S LANES. The driver paused just slightly to honk, then swung on through the intersection and back into the correct lane. The traffic hesitated long enough to see that no other emergency vehicles were following the ambulance, then proceded according to the stop light.

I am from this area, but lived several years in Chicago, which I think this is why this incident freaked me out so much. That ambulance driver knew that in this small town the siren would be respected--that not only would the oncoming traffic remain at a standstill but so would the cars in the left turn lane--and that gave him the confidence to pull off such an manuver.

By the way, in my home town (population 1000, no stoplights), the drivers of emergency vehicles routinely use only lights, and only sound their sirens on as-needed basis, i.e., to get the attention of the occasional daydreamer. When other ambulance services come through town (to get to the aforementioned metropolis' hospitals) sounding their sirens, everyone rolls their eyes and makes remarks regarding drama queens.
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  #36  
Old 09-07-2009, 11:03 PM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
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Heh. My dad still remembers when an ambulance driver on his first day of work in the small town in which I grew up got fired for using his lights and sirens....to convey a corpse to the hospital.
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  #37  
Old 09-07-2009, 11:03 PM
picunurse picunurse is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sweetie pea
By the way, in my home town (population 1000, no stoplights), the drivers of emergency vehicles routinely use only lights, and only sound their sirens on as-needed basis, i.e., to get the attention of the occasional daydreamer. When other ambulance services come through town (to get to the aforementioned metropolis' hospitals) sounding their sirens, everyone rolls their eyes and makes remarks regarding drama queens.
Probably because running with lights/no siren is outside the rules. In Seattle, if a driver runs silent except when nearing the hospital, they could lose their job.
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  #38  
Old 09-07-2009, 11:21 PM
Gbro Gbro is offline
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When nessesary (not saying sweetie situation was) but an emergency vehicle may travel the wrong way on a 1 way street.

On the very 1st run with my youngest daughter as a new EMT, we had a mile run down the wrong way. She was quite big eyed

As for running with lights and no siren, well that is done much to often and in MN is not legal for ambulances. Leo's are different in that respect.

Elendil's Heir, Yes that was a typo, I am not fast enough for the edit window on here
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  #39  
Old 09-08-2009, 03:52 AM
Wallenstein Wallenstein is offline
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Originally Posted by picunurse View Post
Probably because running with lights/no siren is outside the rules. In Seattle, if a driver runs silent except when nearing the hospital, they could lose their job.
I believe it's the opposite in the UK (no cite, sorry).

Ambulances etc are only supposed to use a siren when necessary (i.e. to warn traffic).

If they are on a clear road - e.g. a quiet motorway - then they will run with lights only.

The main reasons are:

1) It reduces the impact of the sirens if they are on all the time; they risk becoming part of background noise, rather than intruding as they are supposed to.

2) It annoys people, especially in built-up areas near hospitals / major routes. There's no need on a deserted city street at 3am to run every ambulance with the siren going, it wakes people up and doesn't serve any purpose (no traffic to warn).

It's always up to the discretion of the driver though - if the siren is needed then they can use it, but where possible it's meant to be quiet.
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Old 09-08-2009, 04:07 AM
VunderBob VunderBob is offline
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I live in a border county of North Carolina; may of our runs go to a hospital in Virginia. In NC, I can drive silent legally, Virginia I cannot. I do it anyway when it's warranted. One other squad member was threatened with a ticket by VSP for driving lights only.

Our shortest possible hospital run is about 20 minutes, with 30-35 being typical. I sure hate having to listen to the wail the entire time, and IMAO it's not necessary for the routine calls.
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  #41  
Old 09-08-2009, 06:31 AM
MarcusF MarcusF is offline
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Originally Posted by Quartz View Post
Believe it. After a press outcry his fine was revoked.

Comments from some sensible policemen here.

I have to go to work now, but there are more a quick Google away.
This makes a bit more sense. The fine was fixed penalty notice based on a junction control camera - they are operated by the Manchester City Council and the place is lousy with them (and with cameras monitoring bus lanes ). Looking at the picture in Daily Mail it is not obvious why the car is through the red light so the the letter would have been sent out by some lowly administrator, not by the police themselves.

I guess the question is how sensible the authorities are once they have had the circumstances explained to them. If they drop it quickly, ok; if you need to get the national press involved they're idiots.
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  #42  
Old 09-08-2009, 02:25 PM
St. Urho St. Urho is offline
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Originally Posted by drachillix View Post
Ex CA ambulance driver here, we would usually shut down and let the lights cycle. Yeilding right of way is about yeilding right of way you have to give. You do not have right of way if you are facing a red light therefore you cannot yeild it.
That's our policy here, too. I'll shut off everything but the Opticom and wait for the lights to switch. I can't force you into an intersection and it's dangerous to try and do so.

St. Urho
Paramedic
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  #43  
Old 09-08-2009, 03:09 PM
picunurse picunurse is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VunderBob View Post
I live in a border county of North Carolina; may of our runs go to a hospital in Virginia. In NC, I can drive silent legally, Virginia I cannot. I do it anyway when it's warranted. One other squad member was threatened with a ticket by VSP for driving lights only.

Our shortest possible hospital run is about 20 minutes, with 30-35 being typical. I sure hate having to listen to the wail the entire time, and IMAO it's not necessary for the routine calls.
I hope you're issued hearing protection. In Washington it's required when running code. The noise inside the cab was worse when the siren was mounted in the grill. Now they are on the back of the cab roof so the dopler effect helps keep the cab quieter.

An aside: In Washington and in some other states, there are two kinds of ambulances, those run by the fire dept and those privately run like Rural Metro and AMR. They are less likely to need to run code, because the fire dept medics have assessed the patient. If the patient is deemed critical, FD medics transport themselves.
Unfortunately, the contract companies get paid extra for running code. They also hire less experienced, younger EMTs who may get off on the "rush" of running code.
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  #44  
Old 09-08-2009, 05:44 PM
BiblioCat BiblioCat is offline
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Originally Posted by picunurse View Post
I hope you're issued hearing protection. In Washington it's required when running code. The noise inside the cab was worse when the siren was mounted in the grill. Now they are on the back of the cab roof so the dopler effect helps keep the cab quieter.
We aren't issued hearing protection, but the sirens are all cab-mounted, so it's not that loud. If I was taking a patient downtown (usually to Shock Trauma), that meant going through the Harbor Tunnel - about 2 miles. In those cases, I'd leave the lights on and kill the siren. It was just too loud in there, with the sound bouncing off the tiled walls.

Quote:
Unfortunately, the contract companies get paid extra for running code. They also hire less experienced, younger EMTs who may get off on the "rush" of running code.
When I worked private ambo, most of what we did were transfers of stable patients. Yes, we (not me, the company) got paid more for running hot. If a patient crashed or something else happened, we had to call in to our Dispatch office and tell them why we were running hot.
If we didn't have a damn good reason, we'd get in trouble. More than a few people were fired for running lights and sirens just to get back to the office to get off on time.
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  #45  
Old 09-08-2009, 06:02 PM
Swallowed My Cellphone Swallowed My Cellphone is offline
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Originally Posted by sweetie pea View Post
All of a sudden, the ambulance appeared, from behind me, but on my left, in the ONCOMING TRAFFIC'S LANES. The driver paused just slightly to honk, then swung on through the intersection and back into the correct lane.
This is SOP in Toronto due to streetcars. Streetcars can't change lanes, so if there are parked cars in the right lane and a streetcar in the left lane, there is no other option. During rush hour, I've seen ambulances travel several blocks this way. At least the oncoming traffic can see them coming, and they move over fast.

I have seen cop cars and ambulances traveling the wrong way on a one-way street, but those have been on low-traffic streets.
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  #46  
Old 09-08-2009, 09:29 PM
Duckster Duckster is offline
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Now that the holiday is over, I made some checks. Based on my OPs description, I was told the ambulance driver was in the wrong. They should have just sat there with lights running until the light turned green. Intimidating the two drivers ahead into making left turns against the red arrows opened up a real can of works (liability) for the ambulance company had there been an accident.

You're are welcome to continue your own anecdotes, or observations that don't apply to my OP.
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  #47  
Old 09-09-2009, 11:54 AM
ghostman ghostman is offline
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FF here. The best thing to do when I'm behind you is to use your signal and let me know which way you're gonna move. Worst thing to do is to slam on your brakes. Second worse thing to do is to try to follow me after I pass you. (:
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