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Code three rolls are not without reason and generally done safely
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Emergency vehicles operating in "code three" mode present dangers to emergency responders and motoring public alike, so it is important that motorists yield without delay to police vehicles, ambulances and fire engines when they exhibit emergency lights and sound sirens. The problems emergency responders encounter most often are motorists who cannot hear sirens because they are listening to amplified sounds, are distracted in conversation or by other activities, are unfamiliar with the law or, simply ignore emergency traffic because it occurs so often. None of these are valid reasons or excuses for failing to yield when an emergency vehicle approaches.

While it is true that emergency vehicles travel code three frequently through our communities, it does not mean that they do so without legal or moral justification. You can be assured that the responders either know that there is an emergency that has life-threatening factors, or, the information they have suggests that there is such an emergency and that anything less than a high-priority response may lead to someone's death or serious injury. Such emergencies go on throughout the day, with various emergency units responding to fires, medical calls, shootings, fights, traffic collisions, hazardous materials spills, robberies-in-progress or any number of other dangerous situations.

When an emergency vehicle approaches from any direction, whether from behind, the opposite direction or from a cross street, all motorists in the area are required to pull to the right and stop to allow that vehicle safe passage. Sometimes the emergency vehicle operator will use the loud speaker to give other instructions, but absent those, pulling to the right and stopping is the requirement. When traffic is gridlocked, for example at a busy, red-light intersection, it is best to stay put unless the emergency response team requests you to do otherwise. Be sure not to pull into an intersection against a red light.

When there is one emergency vehicle, you can count on there being more to follow, so it is important to proceed very carefully once it has passed by. Be sure to listen and look carefully before leaving the spot where you stopped. Having your window down to listen for sirens is also helpful. In some cases, motorists cannot determine what direction the sirens are coming from. This problem is more common on windy days, during foggy times, or in downtown areas where buildings tend to bounce siren sounds around. In those instances, be sure not to keep driving as usual and be particularly wary of entering any intersection.

Emergency vehicles respond with lights and sirens to protect and save lives. It is a mistake to assume otherwise, and it is negligent to permit activities in our vehicles that make it difficult to detect the presence of any emergency responding vehicles. Regardless of the reasons motorists might have for failing to yield to an emergency vehicle, they face the possibility of being cited for failure to yield, driving while distracted, and for amplified sound violations as applicable. If the aforementioned negligence leads to a collision with injuries or deaths, the penalties will be severe.

Whether it is a traffic collision with serious injuries, a drowning child, a burning building, a heart attack, stroke, or any number of other events, emergency responders do their best to arrive at their destinations alive and well, and they wish the same for the general motoring public. The delays caused by inattentive or disobedient motorists can make the difference between life and death of the people who need emergency assistance. The trip to the emergency also becomes critically dangerous for the emergency crews and other motorists as well.

Remember that the next life-threatening emergency may be that of your own, or one of your loved ones. Surely, you would want all other motorists to make certain that their actions do not interfere with or slow down the response to your emergency. Drive safe and yield to the emergency workers as they do their jobs.