Emergency Vehicles

Information related to emergency vehicles and their operation.

Make Way to Give Way

AmbulanceSirens! I'm being overtaken by an ambulance on the way to a call. Signal, move out of the right lane onto the shoulder and stop. Traffic around me seems to be well aware today too as they are doing much the same thing.

Emergency right of way is being granted promptly until the ambulance reaches traffic stopped for a red light at an intersection. This is where the emergency response grinds to a halt as the stationary drivers don't seem to be either willing or able to get out of the way.

Priority for Emergency Vehicles at Traffic Lights

Traffic & Emergency SignalsWhen you need the services of firefighters or paramedics seconds can seem like hours. Sooner is always better in situations like this so some traffic lights are equipped with sensors that listen for sirens and change the signals to make way for emergency vehicles. Not knowing what the priority signal lights meant led one driver to make a choice that could have resulted in a collision in a Ladysmith intersection.

Making Way for Emergency Vehicles

Fire TruckA reader was travelling in a major municipality recently and was stopped in a large collection of vehicles waiting for a red light at the intersection of two multiple lane highways. Emergency vehicles using lights and sirens approached from the rear and tried to get through the traffic and the intersection. There was significant difficulty and the reader was curious how far forward vehicles could move into the cross flow of traffic to assist in clearing a path.

CASE LAW - R v Jacobson

BC Courts Coat of ArmsThe police must follow the provisions of the Emergency Vehicle Driving Regulation when they intend to employ the exemption from the rules of the road set out in the Motor Vehicle Act. In this case, Constable Jacobson was driving his police vehicle on Highway 97 at Daimler Drive in West Kelowna approaching a red light. Hoping to save a few minutes arriving at a complaint he activated the police vehicles's emergency lights and siren about 4 - 5 vehicle lengths’ back from the beginning of the left turn lane on Highway 97 going south. He attempted to make a left hand turn in the intersection and was struck by a northbound Jetta.

Look Ahead! Look Waaaay Ahead!

BinocularsImagine making a lane change and crashing into a fully marked police vehicle stopped at the side of the highway with all of its emergency lights operating. I can only guess that the driver was not properly scanning his environment and looking far enough ahead to anticipate issues before they happen. It might also be time to consider offsetting the police vehicle to the right rather than the left when working on the freeway.

The 70/40 Rule - Slow Down, Move Over

A reader reports that she was driving to Nanaimo and somewhere around Cook Creek there was a black vehicle with several flashing lights stationary at the side of the road. The road was not particularly busy and she was in the curbside lane.  As she approached, traveling at the posted 110 kph. She gradually reduced her speed, checked her mirrors and moved into the outer lane so that she was traveling at 70 kph before she drew alongside the vehicle.  As seh passed this vehicle she could see police officer walking in front of the vehicle, taking photographs into the ditch.

CASE LAW - R v Kaiser

BC Courts Coat of ArmsRichard Kaiser was ticketed for failing to slow while passing a police car while that car’s emergency lights were activated. He disputed that ticket on two grounds, the regulation offended the Charter by being too vague and that the officer was merely making notes concerning a previous violator at the time and so had entrapped Mr. Kaiser. Judge Takahashi convicted Mr. Kaiser.

CASE LAW - Singh v British Columbia

BC Courts Coat of ArmsOn September 12, 2007, the plaintiff, Mr. Prem Singh, was travelling northbound on Scott Road (also known as 120th Street) in Surrey, B.C.  Mr. Singh approached the intersection at 96th Avenue. The traffic light was green for Mr. Singh.  As Mr. Singh went through the intersection, he hit a westbound RCMP vehicle driven by Constable Kerri Parrish who was responding to an emergency call of a man with a knife threatening to stab a child.

Keep Back 150 Meters from Fire Apparatus

Fire TruckFire apparatus have a special privilege granted to no other emergency vehicle in British Columbia. You must not follow them within 150 meters or 500 feet unless you are also driving an emergency vehicle. Having never been a firefighter I was curious and thought that I would ask the experts and find out why this rule exists.

NEWS - Slow Down, Move Over on Shaw TV Victoria

video iconThis video from Shaw TV on Southern Vancouver Island follows the Capital Regional District's Integrated Road Safety Unit and highlights the difficulties the officers face from drivers who do not slow down or move over when passing stopped emergency vehicles. Also discussed is lack of information for drivers and the fact that the rules must be repeated publicly and often in order to have drivers comply.

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