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Sharing the Road Safely with Emergency Vehicles

The sound of sirens making their approach on the road means drivers need to take notice and make way for emergency vehicles to allow them to get to their destination as quickly and safely as possible. I’m sure you’ve noticed as I have this doesn’t always go as smoothly as it should. Some drivers stop dead in their tracks and some keep driving like there is nothing new going on while others try to clear a path.

Perhaps a few of us have forgotten the rules of the road when it comes to emergency vehicles. With this icy weather a refresher can’t hurt to make sure we all stay calm and safe when an emergency situation moves in on our drive.

I hear an emergency vehicle what do I do?

According to the Alberta Traffic and Safety Act when you hear or see an emergency vehicle approaching you must yield the right of way.  What does this mean exactly?

  • Clear intersections in the safest manner possible.
  • On a roadway with one or two lanes all vehicles should navigate out of the way to the right.
  • On a roadway with three or more lanes all vehicles should navigate to the closest curb with drivers in the centre lane moving to the right.
  • Once out of the way stay stopped until ALL emergency vehicles have passed safely.
  • Keep at least 150 metre clearance when driving behind emergency vehicles

Emergency vehicles and tow trucks are already stopped on the side of the road to help.  What are the rules for this?

When approaching the scene of an emergency assisting tow trucks or even a police car with another vehicle pulled over drivers must:

  • Stay a safe distance away. Give those attending the room they need to work safely. When possible move over a lane or two.
  • Reduce your speed. Slow to 40 kilometres per hour on roadways with posted maximum speed limits below 80 km/hr or 60 km/hr on roadways with speed limits 80 km/hr or greater.

Keeping an eye on your speed is always a good idea but even more so when passing through an emergency situation – speed fines double and demerits add up quickly in these instances making for an more costly insurance premium as well.

Knowing the rules and following them not only ensures the safety of the first responders on the scene but it helps to mitigate further trouble. Learn more about emergency road safety on Alberta’s roads at