A close-call with an empty school bus on their way to a workshop fire in Fruitvale on Friday afternoon, has prompted the regional fire department to issue an advisory to all drivers about the importance of yielding to emergency vehicles.
Read more: Engine sparks fire in Fruitvale workshop
“Over the past few days, crews from Kootenay Boundary Regional Fire Rescue have encountered a few more than normal drivers that are either refusing or unaware that they are required to yield to emergency vehicles,” Deputy Captain Glen Gallamore explained.
“Kootenay Boundary Regional Fire Rescue would like to remind the public that emergency personnel risk their lives every day to help you in your time of need,” he said.
“Sometimes the biggest risk is just getting there. When you are driving and emergency vehicles with their lights and sirens on approach you, time is of the essence – move over quickly and carefully,” he emphasized.
“The best way to protect emergency workers, yourself and other motorists is to stay alert behind the wheel.”
Drivers are reminded:
– Scan your mirrors periodically to check for flashing lights.
– If an emergency vehicle approaches with emergency lights flashing or sirens engaged, signal and pull over to the nearest side of the road as quickly and safely as possible.
– Keep to the side of the roadway until the emergency vehicles have safely passed and watch closely for additional emergency vehicles approaching from behind.
– Don’t enter an intersection until the emergency vehicle is completely through it, even if you have a green light.
These rules also apply when meeting an emergency vehicle stopped on the road.
If an emergency vehicle is stopped on the side of the road with its lights flashing, you must slow down and move over.
In British Columbia, motorists are required to slow down and move over for all vehicles stopped alongside the road that have flashing red, blue or yellow lights.
This includes maintenance workers, utility workers, police, fire, ambulance, tow trucks, commercial vehicle safety enforcement personnel, land surveyors, animal control workers, garbage collectors and other roadside workers.
Slow your speed:
– 70km/h when in an 80km/h or over zone
– 40km/h when in an under 80km/h zone
Failing to slow down puts emergency workers and other motorists at risk of serious injury or even death.
“We all need to do our part when it comes to safety,” says Gallamore. “Watch for emergency vehicles, yield the right of way and slow down when passing personnel on the highway. It is that simple, and it can mean the difference between helping in one emergency and causing another,” he said.
“And yes, it is the law.”
Drivers failing to adjust their speed or failing to move over may receive a $173 traffic violation ticket that also carries three penalty points.
Offences and infractions that include penalty points can lead to a driving prohibition.