As the name implies, an emergency vehicle is operated under conditions and circumstances of danger to life and property. The ordinary rules of the road, traffic signs and signals that apply to other traffic are suspended while the vehicle is being driven in response to a call for help, or to apprehend a person suspected of having committed a serious crime and only when continually sounding the siren and flashing lights. While such rules may be waived to provide a swift response to an emergency, the law does impose an obligation on all drivers of emergency vehicles to exercise due care for the safety of other persons. They're still responsible for the safe operation of their vehicle. To save the life of one person while endangering the lives of others is a trade-off society is not prepared to accept. Under no circumstances should a driver of an emergency vehicle take advantage of the law when not responding to an emergency.
Drivers of emergency vehicles provide a service to their community which sometimes goes unrecognized and is beyond monetary calculation. The skills, foresight and judgment required to operate such vehicles, often under extremely hazardous conditions, and where a speedy response is vital, is far above that required of other types of drivers.
The following are some of the rules and good driving practices of which you should be aware.
An emergency vehicle is any vehicle that is used for any one of the following purposes:
- police duty
- firefighting, including a fire pumper operated under authority of a municipality
Duties of other drivers
The law requires that drivers of other vehicles give the right of way to an emergency vehicle which is displaying flashing lights and is sounding a siren or other warning device. Such drivers are obligated to drive parallel to the right-hand side of the roadway, as close to the edge as circumstances permit and, where the vehicle is within an intersection, to clear the intersection and stop on the other side until the emergency vehicle has passed.
These laws were passed to assist operators of emergency vehicles to carry out their responsibilities with a minimum of delay. However, you should not presume that all drivers will comply with the law at all times.
Sometimes, a driver has difficulty in identifying the direction from which an emergency vehicle is approaching, particularly at intersections, and may inadvertently drive into your path. At other times, particularly during cold weather when all windows are closed, drivers have difficulty in hearing the siren and may not react as quickly as they might under more favourable conditions.
When approaching an emergency vehicle stopped on the highway with its emergency lights flashing, drivers must slow to 60 km/h when passing unless the emergency vehicle is on the opposite side of a divided highway.
When roads and traffic conditions are severe, extra care is required. It is far better to take a few extra minutes to arrive at your destination safely than to be delayed by a collision.Previous page Next page