Pull to the Right for Sirens and Lights

We hope everyone is in agreement that keeping response times to a minimum is absolutely essential. In some cases it's is the difference between a favorable or tragic outcome.

We have had people waiting for help tell us they later learned what seemed like an interminable amount of time was only a few minutes.

LED technology has given us brighter lights and today's siren speakers are as loud as ever, but these advantages are sometimes countered by the sound-resistance features in today's cars and trucks.

All drivers should know their responsibilities when approached by an emergency vehicle with its lights flashing and/or siren sounding. Here's the law:

Pull to Right Infographic

4511.45 Right-of-way of public safety vehicles

Upon the approach of a public safety vehicle, equipped with at least one flashing, rotating, or oscillating light visible under normal atmospheric conditions from a distance of five hundred feet to the front of such vehicle and the driver is giving audible signal by siren, exhaust whistle, or bell, the driver of every other vehicle shall yield the right of way, immediately drive to a position parallel to, and as close as possible to, the right edge or curb of the highway clear of any intersection, and stop and remain in such position until the public safety vehicle has passed, except when otherwise directed by a police officer.

And here's how you can help maintain your "situational awareness" when you're behind the wheel:

  • Be aware that we will normally try to pass to your left since you should be pulling to the right. However, distracted drivers or those blocking intersections or roadways may negate that possibility, so be prepared for us to use other options.
  • Avoid driving around emergency scenes after traffic has been instructed to stop (for the sake of both emergency responders and those injured).
  • If you are involved in a crash and are using your cell phone to contact work, relatives, or insurance, please comply when we ask you to end the call so we can assess your injuries.(It has become more frequent that people become offended when we ask them to do this.)
  • After traffic is finally able to maneuver around an emergency scene, keep your eyes on the road. (During one vehicle crash on I-270 we responded to more than six secondary crashes in less than an hour, all caused by drivers rear-ending the vehicle in front of them.)


As a final note, we also ask that you consider how distracted or reckless driving around emergency scenes increases the risk to our firefighters. An occasional and unfortunate part of our job is learning that one of our brethren has been injured or killed while working at an emergency road site.