Vancouver Island RCMP urge drivers to know the rules around emergency vehicles
CAMPBELL RIVER -- The RCMP are issuing a plea to the public to improve their skills when it comes to driving near emergency vehicles.
The issue was raised by the Campbell River detachment's community relations officer following a number of recent incidents where motorists were failing to pull over for police vehicles that had their lights and sirens activated.
"I think it's people are just either unaware or they are just so wrapped up in their own world and what they need to do at that moment," says Const Maury Tyre.
He says when police vehicles are travelling "code three," which means lights are sirens are activated, they are responding to "life and limb" situations.
"We need to get there as fast as we can," Tyre says. "Time waiting for emergency vehicles to show up is definitely important."
He says part of the confusion may arise from the successful 'Slow Down and Move Over' campaign which is designed for coming upon emergency vehicles on the side of the road. Tyre says drivers are getting confused and pulling over the wrong way when emergency vehicles are approaching.
"People have lost that understanding or don't know exactly what they're supposed to do," he says.
Former RCMP officer and now driving instructor Dave Hay says the process is simple.
"The law requires that you slow down, pull over and stop as quickly as possible, and if you're in an intersection, clear the intersection," says Hay.
He says the situation is getting worse because people are concentrating less on what they're supposed to be doing and are getting more distracted.
"They're distracted with conversations with the passengers, they're eating or something and they're not paying attention," Hay says.
"That is the scariest thing because in most cases they suddenly see you and in a lot of cases they do the exact wrong thing. I've had people slam on brakes, I've had people do lane changes, not pull over, stop dead in front of you in the middle of an intersection," he says.
Tyrone Trotter is a paramedic supervisor with the BC Ambulance Service in Victoria and says he believes most drivers are respectful of ambulances but there is room for improvement.
"Every once in a while, unfortunately, we do encounter problems with drivers that are distracted or not aware of their surroundings or not aware of the rules or regulations," Trotter says.
He says that can sometimes lead to their crews being inhibited from responding to calls in a timely manner. Trotter also says there are occasions where driver create problems.
"Issues of traffic following directly behind the emergency vehicle in the path that the emergency vehicle is creating," he says.
Tyre says police work with ambulance and fire crews on occasion and issue tickets if necessary.
Tyre is also asking drivers to use their turn signals when emergency vehicles are approaching.
"Using those signals lets the emergency vehicle know, first that you know they're there, and second, what direction you're going so they can actually make their plans," he says.