THP Says Drivers Need to Move Out of the Way for Emergency Vehicles
The population boom in Nashville and other cities in Middle Tennessee isn’t just posing a problem for would-be renters and home buyers—it’s also putting emergency responders behind when they’re trying to reach locations where homes and businesses are on fire or people are injured and need immediate assistance.
An investigative report by WSMV and the Channel 4 I-Team revealed that firefighters often experience difficulties navigating through intersections and on busy roadways because drivers fail to move their vehicles out of the way and clear paths for them.
A recording captured by reporters showed one fire truck that was forced to come to nearly a complete stop at an intersection because drivers didn’t move out of the way, while another incident showed a semi-truck pulling out in front of a fire truck that was on its way to a call.
A spokesperson with the Tennessee Highway Patrol says that law enforcement experiences the same issues. So far this year, 1,176 people have received citations in Tennessee for failing to move out of the way of emergency responders.
People who receive citations from Metro Police officers receive fines of around $100, while people caught failing to move over by THP troopers may be fined around $500 and even sentenced to 30 days in jail.
3 Tips for Driving Safely Near Emergency Vehicles
For the drivers and crews working in police cruisers, firetrucks, ambulances, and rescue vehicles, every second counts. Even a slight delay at an intersection or on a busy roadway can mean the difference between life or death. While it’s vital that drivers move out of the way of these vehicles as quickly as possible, it’s also important that they do so safely and without putting themselves or others in danger.
Driving near emergency vehicles that have their sirens activated and lights flashing can be stressful, but following these three tips can help you stay safe and clear a path:
- When the vehicle is approaching from behind, begin slowing down and pulling over as soon as it’s safe to do so.
If you hear an emergency vehicle’s siren or see its lights coming from behind you, begin preparing to pull over and clear a path as soon as possible. If you’re in the far-right lane, pull over to the shoulder and come to a complete stop. If you’re in any other lane, begin preparing to move over as soon as you can do so safely and without cutting off other vehicles.
- Stay away from emergency vehicles and avoid tailgating or following too closely.
There are some situations where coming to a complete stop while driving near an emergency vehicle may not be practical, such as driving in dense traffic on a highway or interstate. If that situation occurs, you should still clear a path for the vehicle and reduce your speed. Then, you should make sure to stay back at least 300-500 feet behind the vehicle while it passes your location.
- Always move over when approaching stopped emergency vehicles.
By law, all drivers in the state of Tennessee are required to move over when they approach stopped emergency vehicles that are on the sides or shoulders of roadways. That includes police cars, fire trucks, ambulances, and rescue vehicles. It also now applies to utility vehicles. When you see a stopped vehicle with flashing lights, immediately begin preparing to move over by slowing down and using your turn signal before merging to the left or right.
As a driver, you have two responsibilities when an emergency vehicle approaches your location: making sure you don’t cause them to experience unnecessary delays and making sure you don’t put yourself, emergency responders, and other drivers in danger.
Simply trying to immediately move out of the way of police cars, ambulances, fire trucks, and rescue vehicles when they’re approaching and taking a cautious approach while you do it can go a long way towards making emergency responders jobs’ easier and Tennessee roadways safer for everyone.
If you or someone you know was injured in an accident in Nashville and anywhere else in Middle Tennessee, our legal team wants to speak with you. We have two decades of experience fighting for the rights of injured victims, and we know what it takes to win. Dial (615) 200-1111 or complete a free online consultation form to speak with us today.