Traffic talk: How to yield to emergency vehicles

What are you supposed to do if you can't get to the shoulder?
by Don Gammill Published: May 21, 2012
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Have you ever been driving along peacefully when the quiet is broken by the wail of a siren and you see the flashing lights in your mirror?

When you are on a multilane highway like Hefner Parkway or Broadway Extension and there is an emergency vehicle coming up behind you, what are you supposed to do if you cannot get to an outside lane?

Elaine

First, Elaine, don't panic. Just react ... carefully. The keys are, if the emergency vehicle is running with lights and siren, and can you safely move over. You must yield the right of way. How you do depends upon certain circumstances.

Title 47, Chapter 11, Section 405, Part A of the Oklahoma Statutes, on “Operation of Vehicles on Approach of Authorized Emergency Vehicles”:

“Upon the immediate approach of an authorized emergency vehicle making use of audible and visual signals meeting the requirements of Section 12-218 of this act, or of a police vehicle properly and lawfully making use of an audible signal or red flashing lights, 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.”

To simplify, in a traffic situation such as you describe, Elaine, when you can't pull over, clear a path for the emergency vehicle.

But, according to the Oklahoma Driver's Manual: “If an officer signals you to stop while you're driving in the left lane, you must still pull over to the right shoulder, even if that means crossing several lanes of traffic.”


by Don Gammill
General Assignment Editor and Columnist
Don Gammill is general assignment editor and columnist. A native of Ponca City, he graduated from Central State University (now the University of Central Oklahoma). While in college, he was a sports stringer for The Oklahoma City Times....
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