questionswhat's the proper action for an emergency vehicle…


It is mandatory in NC to give a wide berth to emergency vehicles stopped on the side of the road (which I had already done before I realized it was still moving) but what about one that's traveling? I could see that there was nothing ahead of me that it was heading towards, but is there a law or etiquette regarding this?


In my experience traffic generally slows to the speed of the emergency vehicle, because otherwise you'd just have to pull yourself over again.

If the ambulance has their lights on, there's an emergency. Do your best to accommodate: To my knowledge, pull over if in front and give distance if behind.

You could always call your local police department and find out if there are any city or state laws you should be aware of regarding this. It seems rational that grid-lock prone cities might have different ordinances than others.


In my state (Florida), an ambulance/emergency vehicle driving with flashing lights on but without a siren on is generally considered to be doing a routine, non-emergency transport of a patient and is treated like any other vehicle. (You don't need to yield the right-of-way for them, for instance.)

The procedures for emergency vehicles traveling with lights and sirens on varies from state to state. In Florida, other drivers are required to pull to the right-hand shoulder when possible (the left-shoulder if in the left lane on a multi-lane road) and stop; emergency vehicles always have the right of way at intersections, but they must slow down and proceed with caution if their lane has a red light.

If the emergency vehicle (traveling with L&S) is tootling along just fine with a clear lane ahead, especially if it's traveling below the speed limit, I don't see how passing it safely could be a traffic violation, since there's no issue of yielding right of way.


Thanks for the replies!

I didn't mention it in the initial post, but there was no siren on. If the ambulance had been in any other lane I probably would have fallen in with the other traffic, but my thought was exactly what @magic cave said - I was pulling away from him at roughly 20 mph so I was well out of the vicinity before too long.

I think I will stop by the SHP office and ask to be sure. I'll post back here when I find out.


Could be that the driver had to use the restroom...hey that can be an emergency too!


In NJ its technically not acceptable to drive code 2 or light no siren. So in my state I would advise that during the day time you do one of two things either A.) nothing...and if they want you to move, they should get pissed off enough to use the siren. Or B.) if you can, try to pull safely to the right to allow them to pass, this stops us from waking people up at night...but in an emergency I don't really care...

However, in NJ they have blue lights for volunteers which don't need a siren, in which case you then are supposed to pull to the right if possible. However, they cannot go through red lights, and thus must sit there at the red light confusing traffic.


it could also be that the patient's medical condition requires the siren be off. I'd say yield regardless.