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OPINION | DRIVETIME MAHATMA Hear a siren? Proceed with caution

by Frank Fellone | September 10, 2022 at 3:45 a.m.


Dear All Knowing: If I am going down a four- or five-lane road, and an emergency vehicle approaches from the opposite direction, what am I supposed to do? It's common for people to pull over and stop, even though the ambulance is three lanes away. I have seen that almost cause accidents several times. That seems much more dangerous than just getting over into the right-hand lane, or even staying in the left-hand lane and continuing on. -- Flummoxed in Conway (Home of the Roundy Rounds)

Dear Flum: We did as you did -- consulted Subchapter 9 of Arkansas Code Annotated 27-51-901, "Operation of vehicles and streetcars on approach of authorized emergency vehicles."

Condensing: When an authorized emergency vehicle approaches, "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 highway clear of any intersection. The driver shall also stop and remain until the emergency vehicle has passed, except when otherwise directed by a police officer."

Then we looked at the Arkansas State Police driver license study guide. It says essentially the same, but adds: "Don't hesitate to pull over when you hear sirens or see flashing lights in any direction."

But we, too, were flummoxed while thinking about a multilane highway with a median, such as an interstate. So we asked Bill Sadler of the state police if there were a distinction.

He said, straight off, that we were right that the statute did not provide an exception in the case of a divided highway with a median. Being seldom right, we were pleased and proud.

A driver, Sadler said, should always prepare for the unexpected. Such as an emergency vehicle to cross a median and go in the opposite direction.

Whenever flashing lights and sirens appear, he said, drivers should:

Immediately raise their level of caution.

Reduce speed. Be prepared for a change in direction by the emergency vehicle.

Once the emergency vehicle has passed, continuing in the opposite direction, resume driving at a safe speed or the posted speed limit.

Sadler added a copy of Arkansas Annotated Code 27-51-310, "Passing authorized vehicle stopped on highway." An authorized vehicle is defined as any that displays a flashing, revolving or rotating blue, red, amber, amber and red, white, or green light.

A driver approaching such a vehicle shall move to the farthest possible lane or position from the authorized vehicle, remain in that lane until the authorized vehicle, and exercise due caution.

Can't move over?

Reduce speed. Exercise due caution. Maintain that reduced speed until safely past.

Vanity plate we saw on a Tesla in Bentonville: REVOLT.

Against what?

Fjfellone@gmail.com


Print Headline: Keep wary if you sight responders

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