What to do when an emergency vehicle approaches

Emergency personnel risk their lives every day to help us in our time of need. Sometimes they face that risk just getting there. When you're driving and you see emergency vehicles with their lights and sirens on, time is of the essence - move over quickly and carefully.

 To protect the safety of officers, emergency crews and everyone on the road, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) uses the acronym SIREN:

  • Stay Alert - Pay attention, keep the noise level low in your car and look for more than one emergency vehicle approaching when you hear a siren. Also, be aware of your surroundings, including pedestrians who may be in the crosswalk or at the edge of the roadway.Move over for response vehicles
  • Investigate - Check your rearview mirror and both sides of your vehicle to estimate the speed of the emergency vehicle and plan your next move. Pull off the roadway safely and gradually brake to avoid losing control.
  • React - React quickly and calmly and scan in all directions before pulling over. Using your turn signal will communicate your intentions with emergency personnel. Don't slam on the brakes or pull over suddenly.
  • Enter - Before re-entering the road, look in all directions, turn on your signal and gradually merge back into traffic.
  • Never - Don't stop at a place that doesn't have enough room to pull over safely and never follow or try to outrun and emergency vehicle.

On the Road with Emergency Vehicles
 When you see a stopped emergency vehicle:

  • Slow down and move over a lane, if possible. If traffic or other conditions prevent you from changing lanes, you must slow down and proceed with caution.

When an emergency vehicle is approaching: 

  • Pull over to the edge of the roadway, clear of intersections, and stop.
  • Remain there until the emergency vehicle has passed. Watch for others. There may be several other emergency vehicles.
  • Keep a foot on the brake so the brake lights let emergency vehicle drivers know you have stopped.
  • Stay at least 500 feet behind any moving emergency vehicle displaying flashing warning lights and sounding a siren. Never race after an emergency vehicle to get through a traffic light.
  • Never pass a moving emergency vehicle displaying flashing lights unless directed to do so by a police officer or emergency personnel.

By following a few simple rules, you can help emergency workers get to the scene faster and safer. Thank you!