How to React to Emergency Vehicles - Diamond and Diamond Lawyers

How to React to Emergency Vehicles


Being on the road means being alert of your surroundings at all times. This is extremely important in the event that emergency vehicles are coming up from the other direction, next to you or are needing to move through a stop light while you are currently sitting there. Most people in Canada understand that the first thing they are supposed to do if they hear emergency sirens is to pull over to the right and stop right away.

Unfortunately, however, the numerous different vehicles on the road can make it difficult to figure out what is most appropriate for you to do. Trying to make way for an emergency vehicle to pass is always important, but if it’s not a situation you encounter often, it can be challenging to remember the steps you must take.

The Ontario Highway Traffic Act stipulates what you should do in the event that you hear sirens. If there are greater than two lanes of traffic going one way in the same direction on the roadway, then you are responsible for pulling over to the nearest curb whether that is on the left or on the right. Reacting to an emergency vehicle could allow someone responding to an urgent situation to get through more quickly and also prevent the potential for future accidents. If you are on a multi-lane highway: 

  • Do not move onto the shoulder
  • Slow down, signal as soon as possible and move over to the right
  • Move close to the right side of the road and stop

If you are on a one-way street:

  • Turn on your signals immediately and pull to either side of the street, remaining clear of any intersection or stopping

If you are in an intersection:

  • Never block the intersection itself
  • Traffic going in any direction is responsible for yielding to emergency vehicles
  • If an emergency vehicle is behind you, don’t make a left turn, drive through the intersection then pullover to the right

Some of the most important things you can do to avoid being in an accident and allow emergency vehicles to pass through safely include avoiding distractions, staying alert, never following an ambulance or fire vehicle that is responding to a call, never blocking the shoulder or driving on the shoulder on a freeway, and verify to make sure that the path is clear and signal before you merge back into oncoming traffic.

In the event that you see a tow truck or an emergency vehicle pulled over to the side of the road with its amber lights flashing, if going the same direction that you are going, make sure that you slow down and pass with caution. Being aware of your surroundings could make it more likely that these individuals are able to respond to an emergency call as soon as possible without any interference and it can also decrease your chances of being involved in a significant accident with the other cars on the road.

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