B.C. Rules of the Road - A Review
Since the end of July, approximately 14 people have died in traffic incidents - just in the area between Vernon and the B.C./Alberta border. This number does not include incidents where only injuries occurred, and does include one person who was killed while stopped on the highway for an incident.
It is time for everyone to review those 'rules of the road' you learned when you first took your driver's exam - whether it was 50 years ago or five months ago - and help keep the roads safe for those who are trying to attend incident sites.
I have witnessed firsthand how few people follow the 'rules of the road' when it comes to emergency vehicles. According to ICBC and the 'Learn to Drive Smart' handbook, this is what you are supposed to do when you see emergency vehicles approaching you:
Emergency vehicles include police cars, ambulances and fire trucks.
Be aware - listen for sirens and watch for flashing lights - look to see where the emergency vehicle is coming from. Once the vehicle has passed, watch and listen because there may be others.
Know the rules - emergency vehicles displaying flashing lights and sirens always have the right-of-way. All traffic moving in both directions must stop.
Exception: if you are on a divided highway and the emergency vehicle is approaching on the other side of the median, you may not need to stop. Make sure that it would be impossible for the emergency vehicle to move onto your side of the highway.
Clear a path - don't block the path of emergency vehicles. Best thing to do is pull over to the right and come to a complete stop (or to the left if you're driving in the left lane of a divided highway or on a one-way street)
Use your turn signal to let the emergency vehicle driver know you have seen the vehicle and are pulling over.
Do not stop in an intersection.
Think well ahead, and have a plan in mind to create a path for the emergency vehicle. If you simply pull over, but your vehicle is still moving, drivers of emergency vehicles do not know your intentions - and they have to assume the worst - that you may move back out into the lane of travel.
And continue to use your common sense when you are stopped for a period of time because of an incident.
This is not the time or place to:
Step out onto the roadway to get a photo or video of emergency vehicles arriving on scene.
Walk up to the scene to try to get a closer look at the incident - stay with your vehicle. You need to be ready to drive your vehicle when traffic starts moving - not a kilometre away trying to see what happened.
Try to take a picture or video while driving past the incident scene.
Take your child's bike off the car, put their helmet on, and let them bike on the roadway because you think traffic is blocked off and not moving.
Have a plan while travelling - take bottles of water and snacks, storybooks, games, etc. - even for a short trip. And don't leave your common sense at home - emergency service personnel are trying to assist those in need - not add to the number of people who need help.
And they all want to go home at the end of their shift - in one piece.
P. Walkden from the Vernon Morning Star
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