Emergency Transportation Operations

Sampling of Example Language from State Driver Manuals

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Traffic incidents put lives at risk and are a major cause of congestion on our Nation's roadways. Up to 22% of wrecks happen after other crashes and can be deadly. Traffic incidents are also a major cause of unexpected delay on roadways.

Educating drivers through driver education programs about two important traffic safety laws—known as "Steer It/Clear It" and "Slow Down/Move Over" laws—can save lives and keep traffic moving on our nation's roadways. Most States have these traffic safety laws in place, but many driver education programs do not cover these life-saving laws.

The Federal Highway Administration provides example language on both of these laws for inclusion in driver manuals produced by State Departments of Education, Departments of Motor Vehicles, or the Driving School Association of the Americas as well as any other sponsor of driver education programs or curricula (please see the sample language provided in FHWA's online Traffic Incident Management Public Outreach Toolkit).

Below are some examples of similar language from State Driver Manuals if helpful:

Minnesota

Nevada

Virginia

STATE SAMPLE – MINNESOTA

Link to download: https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/dvs/forms-documents/Documents/Minnesota_Drivers_Manual.pdf

Date: Unknown

Emergency Vehicles on the Freeway

When you see the flashing lights of an ambulance, fire truck, or police car on the shoulder of the road, you must move a lane away from the emergency vehicle, if it is possible to do so safely. [Note: This example instructs drivers to "move over" if they are able, or to slow down if unable to move over. Ideally drivers slow down and move over to an adjacent lane if they are able.]

  • If you are not able to safely move a lane away, slow down.
  • When you see an emergency vehicle with its lights and siren activated behind you, move to the nearest side of the road and stop. Do not slam on the brakes or swerve into other lanes. Remember to use your turn signal.
  • Remain stopped until the emergency vehicle has completely passed. Look for other emergency vehicles that may be following it before pulling out.
  • Stay at least 500 feet back from any firefighting vehicle.

(Page 78)

What to Do in a Traffic Crash

If you are involved in a crash, you must take certain actions to ensure safety and compliance with the law:

  • You must stop. Pull out of the driving lane, if possible, onto the shoulder. Turn off the ignition to decrease the risk of fire. [Note: This example language instructs drivers to move their vehicles out of the lanes of traffic if possible.]
  • Protect yourself and the crash scene. Warn other drivers of danger with emergency warning lights, flares, or flashlight.
  • If someone in the crash is injured or killed, you must call the nearest law enforcement agency or 911 as quickly as possible.
  • If you are qualified, administer first aid. Otherwise, do what you can to make injured persons comfortable. You are required by law to provide a reasonable degree of assistance to crash victims.
  • You must provide your name, address, date of birth and registration number of your vehicle to other drivers involved in the crash and to any law enforcement officer at the scene. You must also show your driver's license to any driver who asks to see it and to any law enforcement officer at the scene.
  • If a person involved in the crash asks for your insurance information, you must provide the name and address of your insurance carrier and the name of your agent.
  • Insurance information must be given to the law enforcement officer investigating the crash. If you do not have this information with you, you must provide it within 72 hours.
  • If a crash results only in property damage, it is not necessary to notify law enforcement. If your vehicle is disabled, have it towed as soon as possible.
  • If you damage property other than a vehicle, you must inform the property owner.

(Page 42)

STATE SAMPLE – NEVADA

Link to download: www.dmvnv.com/pdfforms/dlbook.pdf

Date: October 2011

Approaching a Stopped Emergency Vehicle

Drivers have certain duties when approaching a stopped emergency vehicle making use of flashing lights. These apply to all types of emergency vehicles including tow trucks. In the absence of direction by a peace officer, the driver of a vehicle approaching a stopped emergency vehicle must: [Note: This example showcases language encouraging BOTH slowing down AND moving over as required.]

  • Decrease the vehicle speed to a speed that is reasonable and proper and less than the posted speed limit.
  • Proceed with caution.
  • Be prepared to stop; and
  • If possible, drive in a lane that is not adjacent to the lane in which the emergency vehicle is stopped unless the roadway, traffic, weather or other conditions make doing so unsafe or impossible.

(Page 46)

What to Do in a Crash

  • Stop.
  • Get medical help for the injured.
  • Warn traffic.
  • Notify law enforcement.
  • Fender bender? Move to the shoulder.
    [Note: This example showcases language regarding "Move It" laws, requiring drivers to move their vehicles out of the lanes of traffic if there are no injuries for their safety and that of other motorists; and to minimize disruption of traffic flow.]
    If there is damage only to a vehicle or other property (no injuries), your vehicle is obstructing traffic and the vehicle can be moved safely, move the vehicle to a location that does not obstruct traffic and then return to the scene.
  • Exchange your name, address, driver's license number, registration and insurance information with other drivers involved.
  • If the accident involves an unattended vehicle or other property, you must give the owner your name, address, driver's license number, registration and insurance information, either in person or by leaving a note.

(Page 53)

STATE SAMPLE – VIRGINIA

Link to download: www.dmv.virginia.gov/webdoc/pdf/dmv39d.pdf

Date: 2011

Yielding to Vehicles with Flashing Lights

Drivers must take specific actions when they see vehicles with flashing or blinking blue, red, yellow or white lights on roadways.

Stopped vehicles

  • When approaching a stopped vehicle with flashing lights on a four lane highway, you must change to a lane not next to the emergency vehicle, if you can change lanes safely. [Note: This example instructs drivers to "move over" if they are able, and otherwise, to slow down if you are unable to move over. Ideally drivers slow down and move over to an adjacent lane if they are able.] If you are unable to safely change lanes, reduce your speed and proceed with caution. Violations can result in court suspension of your driver's license and demerit points on your driving record.

Approaching vehicles – same direction

  • Never follow an emergency vehicle closer than 500 feet when its lights are flashing.
  • When police, fire and rescue vehicles or ambulances approach you from behind your vehicle using a siren, flashing lights or both, you must immediately yield the right-of-way. Safely pull over to the right edge of the road and stop until the emergency vehicle has passed.

Approaching vehicles – opposite direction

  • When emergency vehicles approach you in the opposite lane on an undivided highway, you must pull over to the edge of the road and stop until the emergency vehicle passes.
(Section 3, Page 3)

Traffic Crashes

[Note: This example language makes drivers aware it is permissible to move vehicles involved in a traffic incident if they are creating a traffic hazard. In many states, drivers are required to move their vehicles if they are able to safely do so.]

If you are involved in a traffic crash, you must:

  • Stop at the scene of the crash or as close to the scene as possible without blocking traffic. You may move the vehicles before the police arrive if the vehicles create a traffic hazard.
  • Give any help you can if someone is injured. Do not attempt to move an injured person from a wrecked vehicle unless you have the necessary medical training or there is an immediate danger such as fire.
  • Report the crash to the police as quickly as possible. Motor vehicle crashes involving property damage, personal injury or death must be reported to the police.
  • Exchange information with other people involved in the crash as soon as possible. Be sure to get the following information:
    • Name, address and driver's license number of other drivers
    • License plate numbers of other vehicles
    • Name and address of anyone who was injured
    • Name and address of each witness
    • Name, address and insurance policy number of other vehicle owners
  • Notify your insurance company immediately.

(Section 3, Page 24)

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