Saturday, December 15, 2007

Pull to the right and stop!

Why is it so hard? What's wrong with people?

I was looking out my window at work yesterday, and I witnessed an all-too-familiar sight, an ambulance with its lights on and siren blaring, waiting to make a turn because the traffic wasn't stopping for it.

Really, what's wrong with people? Does someone have to grab them one by one and scream, "what if that was someone you love in that ambulance?!?!"

Perhaps you're thinking, maybe they didn't see it in time. Well, that does happen, but I don't accept that it's usually so innocent. First of all, in many cases, the people aren't paying attention to where they're going, and that's simply unsafe. If they paid better attention, they'd usually have plenty of time to stop. Second, I think lots of drivers really don't give a shit. If anything, they see an ambulance as something to follow so they can get through traffic faster.

Do I have any evidence of this? Sadly, yes. Not scientific evidence, but it is first-hand evidence.

One day, back in my government days when I drove around in an unmarked police car, I was in the car when I saw an ambulance coming up behind me, trying to make its way through tight highway traffic. People were taking their sweet time getting out of the way.

Seeing which hospital it was from, I knew we probably were heading the same way. So I slowed to let it come closer, maneuvered in front of it and then activated my lights, too. Magically, the traffic started to part. Do people move for an ambulance? Not really, but if they see a police car, they soil themselves and quickly move out of the way.

So the ambulance followed the path I carved through traffic until the traffic loosened up. Then I shut down my red lights and pulled over one lane, slowing down to a more normal speed. The ambulance went past us and whooped its siren in thanks.

So yes, people actually see ambulances and don't care enough to get out of the way. There should be a day when such people answer for behavior like this. It never ceases to amaze me.

When I learned to drive, I was taught that there was one rule for what to do when an emergency vehicle approached with its lights and siren going. Whether it was coming towards you (because it might have to cross the line into your side) or coming from behind you, you should pull to the right and stop. It's really not a hard rule to follow!


Greg said...

Perhaps, the ambulance siren should be changed to that of a police car. Or even an air raid or nuclear accident siren, something to scare the living crap out of people and to get their butts in gear.

Dantallion said...

I couldn't agree more. Perhaps it's time to quadruple fines for NOT getting out of the way.