Pull to the Right for Sirens and Flashing Lights

Illinois law requires motorists to pull to the right--off the road if possible--and stop until emergency vehicles have passed. This applies to those approaching from behind and those coming toward you.

A problem often faced by firefighters, paramedics and police are drivers who do not become aware of the approaching emergency vehicles until the last moment, then panic and stop wherever they happen to be.

We encounter drivers who stop in the middle of an intersection or in the left lane. This complicates the situation when other vehicles have done their best to pull to the right or out of the intersection. Motorists who fail to pull to the right make the available roadway very narrow for emergency vehicles to get through.

Emergency personnel understand the sudden surge of surprise motorists normally experience at the sound and sight of a fire truck, ambulance or police car rapidly approaching with siren and flashing lights. But it's important to think ahead. Train yourself to instinctively pull to the right at the sound/sight of emergency vehicles, just as you automatically slow and stop for school buses when their yellow and red lights begin flashing. Or . . .

 When driving, take a hint from other drivers: When you notice vehicles pulling to the right edge of the road on both sides, do the same and stay there until all emergency vehicles have passed.

 

DO'S

  • Remain Calm!
  • Don't Panic
  • Pull to the right and come to a stop
  • When on a high-speed road or when there is no room to stop, slow down as much as possible.
  • When in the left lane, pull over into the right lane as traffic in the lane to your right moves over.
  • If you cannot move to the right because of an obstacle such as a car to your right, simply stop. Your prompt action will let the driver of the emergency vehicle know what you are doing; it will allow the driver to anticipate where to drive.
  • When an emergency vehicle approaches you from behind while you are stationary at an intersection stop sign or red light, DO NOT move unless you can pull to the right.
  • On a 4-lane highway or street without barriers, both sides of traffic should pull to the right. (The emergency vehicle may have to turn in front of oncoming traffic.) 

 

DON'TS

  • Don't stop in the middle lane when there is room to pull to the right.
  • Don't pull to the left in the center lane or left turn lane.
  • Don't drive through a red light or stop sign when an emergency vehicle approaches from behind.
  • Don't turn quickly to the left into a driveway or street.
  • Don't race ahead to get through a green light or turn before the emergency vehicle gets there.
  • Don't disregard the presence of the emergency vehicle by continuing to drive.