The Tooele City Police Department is reminding people to pull over for emergency vehicles.
The law requires drivers to pull over for emergency vehicles, said Jeremy Hansen, public information officer for the Tooele Police Department.
Failure to pull over for emergency vehicles also causes accidents, reduces safety and the ability of first responders to render help, according to Hansen.
Utah code 41-6a-904 states that when an emergency vehicle approaches, the operator of a vehicle needs to “yield the right of way and immediately move to a position parallel to, and as close as possible to, the right-hand edge of the curb or highway.”
They must also “clear any intersection and stop and remain stopped until the authorized emergency vehicle has passed”.
“If the operator of a vehicle does not have anywhere to pull over, such as into another lane, slow down and give the emergency vehicle as much room as possible,” said Hansen. “The driver should attempt to move their vehicle into a right lane as soon as possible.”
Emergency vehicles include police vehicles, fire trucks, and ambulances.
“These are obvious ones,” stated Hansen. “However, tow trucks are also considered emergency vehicles when they are helping in a traffic accident.”
When an emergency vehicle is responding with lights and sirens, they are doing so because of the serious nature of the event that is taking place, according to Hansen.
“Emergency personnel want to arrive on scene as quickly and safely as possible,” Hansen said. “If we are fighting our way through traffic, it takes longer to arrive on scene and begin rendering aid.”
It is extremely dangerous if individuals do not pull over for emergency vehicles, according to Hansen.
“If drivers do not pull over, it increases the chance of an emergency vehicle being in an accident,” Hansen said. “Emergency personnel can only respond as quickly as they can do so safely. If driver’s do not yield the right of way causing an accident with the emergency vehicle, that responder — police, fire, or medical — can no longer provide assistance to the incident.” Depending on how many drivers fail to pull over for emergency vehicles can mean life or death when first responders are dealing with an emergency.
If individuals fail to pull over for emergency vehicles, it can result in a criminal charge, according to Hansen.
Hansen said it is also important to remember to switch lanes, if possible, for an emergency vehicle parked on the side of the road.
“When approaching a stationary emergency vehicle, an operator needs to reduce their speed, provide as much space as possible, and make a lane change into a lane not adjacent to the authorized emergency vehicle,” he said. “This is generally a bigger issue for emergency personnel than failing to yield the right of way. Emergency personnel are hit by vehicles almost every year in Utah. We would like to remind the public to slow down and change lanes, to provide a safer work environment for our emergency personnel.”