Florida Laws on Yielding to Emergency Vehicles & Right of Way

By George Lorenzo

Everyone should know to move over for an ambulance, fire truck, police car and roadside rescue trucks. But did you also know you should move over for sanitation, utility service, tow trucks and wreckers?

Even if these vehicles are stopped, you should still move over one lane, especially if any of them have their flashing lights on.

If you’re driving along and you look in the rearview mirror to see a fire truck or police car flashing their lights before you hear their sirens or whistles, you need to move over.

Use your blinker to indicate to other drivers that you’re getting into the far-right lane before slowing down and stopping parallel as close to the curb as possible. You want to do this as quickly and safely as possible to avoid a single-vehicle collision or hitting other cars.

Yield at intersections

Say you’ve stopped at a four-way intersection and are waiting for the light to turn green when you hear an emergency vehicle’s siren.

If possible, safely get into the far-right lane and stay there until the emergency vehicle has passed. Otherwise, simply stay where you are and wait for the vehicle to pass. If the light turns green and the vehicle is close behind you, wait until they’ve passed before continuing on your way.

Slow down

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. In the case of an emergency, should one of these types of vehicles be coming up behind you and the road only has two lanes, drivers must slow down to 20 mph or less than the posted speed. If the speed posted is already 20 mph or less, drivers should slow down to 5 mph.

Yield to oncoming vehicles

Always yield to oncoming emergency vehicles. No matter which side of the road you’re driving on, move toward the curb as much as possible to give the fire trucks and policemen a clear path to drive through. When their lights are on and their sirens are going, they always have the right of way.

Move over

Even if you’re running late to work or have to pick up your child from school, nowhere is more important than where the emergency policemen, firefighters, and EMT’s are trying to go. Move over as safely as possible and let emergency vehicles by.

Failure to move over or yield

If a driver isn’t paying attention or ignores oncoming emergency vehicles entirely when their lights, sirens and horns are blaring, it puts that driver and others at risk.

Crashing with an emergency vehicle can result in steep fines, fees and points added to your driving record. And none of that includes the possible injuries and damages to each of the vehicles.

Whether you’re a Florida native or just visiting the Sunshine State, move over. After all, it’s the law.

George Lorenzo has been practicing law for nearly 30 years. He is a co-founder of Lorenzo & Lorenzo, a Tampa, FL personal injury law, specializing in auto accidents cases and more.

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