When you hear a siren (usually attributable to emergency response vehicles), it is one distinct sound — loud and wailing. In response to hearing this sound, most cars pull over to the side of the road to get out of the way, but many people are unsure of the best way to react safely in this situation. Knowing exactly what to do in these typical circumstances will assist you in remaining safe, helpful, and compliant with the law as you navigate your day. However, first thing’s first:
Be on the lookout for emergency vehicles
You must make it a habit to always watch out for these vehicles. When you hear a siren, attempt to figure out which direction it is coming from before proceeding. It is imperative that you move out of the way if you notice a firetruck, police car, ambulance, or other official vehicle with flashing lights and a siren, as this indicates that it is an emergency vehicle. Make cautious use of your side and rearview mirrors to keep an eye on the road ahead of you. It’s possible that the sirens are coming from an emergency vehicle that’s heading in the same direction you are.
What to do when you hear a roadside emergency siren
It is likely that you will come across an emergency vehicle while driving at some point throughout your journey. A surprising number of people do not know what to do when an emergency vehicle appears, which can put others, as well as themselves, at risk. This can be avoided by following some simple guidelines. Making life easier for emergency responders, other drivers, and yourself begins with being prepared and knowing how to react appropriately.
10 best practices on what to do when you hear a siren, or see its flashing lights
1. Do not be alarmed
When you hear a siren and traffic begins to move aside, it’s natural to feel a little overwhelmed, but remember to remain calm and not panic. You and others on the road are at risk of serious injury or death if you panic and come to a sudden stop in a potentially dangerous area.
2. Take it easy
Stopping abruptly could result in damage to the emergency vehicle or another car on the road. Reduce your speed and avoid making any unexpected movements.
3. Make a note of it
Despite the fact that you may be distracted by the siren, make sure you indicate. It would help everyone on the road to leave or arrive safely if you can demonstrate to the emergency car where you are going and to other vehicles around.
4. Do not obstruct traffic
Take caution not to obstruct traffic, as this could cause a snarl in the route of an approaching emergency vehicle.
5. Keep an eye out for other vehicles
To avoid accidents, keep your attention on the road and be alert of all cars and other road users.
6. Do not create a hazard in the roadway
Creating a hazard for automobiles can be dangerous! Make sure you move your vehicle out of the way in a safe manner.
7. Take a step to the left
If it is safe to do so, move as far to the left as you possibly can to create room for the emergency vehicle that is attempting to pass through the intersection. However, still make sure to gauge the flow of traffic, to help you determine what side of the road you should be on.
8. Never, ever disregard a red light
It is illegal to proceed through a red light if you are stopped at a red light and hear a siren behind you. Doing so could put other road users in danger. If you are able, move to the left as much as you can. If this is not the case, it is the obligation of the emergency vehicle to find another path, or to wait until it is safe to do so.
9. Do not listen to music that is too loud
It is critical to ensure that you are able to hear sounds around you clearly, to react as quickly as possible. The use of headphones or playing loud music can prevent you from hearing a siren in time, so make sure your music isn’t too loud (better yet, just don’t wear them!)
10. Pull over immediately to be seen by police officers
Pull over as soon as it is safe to do so and follow the police officer’s orders if the sirens are coming from a police car directly behind you. If this is the case, you will be able to see flashing red and blue lights behind you. The majority of traffic stops will be conducted by police officers using flashing lights and sirens, or solely using flashing lights and no siren. If the officer is not attempting to pull you over, he or she will pass you if you slow down or cross lanes without signaling.
When you hear a siren, remember that you are ultimately accountable for your actions, so make sure to take all precautions possible. You should avoid slamming on the brakes because the person behind you may not react in such a manner. A siren may sound as you approach an intersection so if that occurs, you should avoid entering or crossing the intersection. Slow down and wait until the emergency vehicle has passed before proceeding on your path. Afterwards, you may go as usual.
It is also important to ensure that your hearing is not hindered while driving a vehicle. Avoid using headphones, or making/answering calls while driving. Even turning up the radio too loudly can impair your ability to hear other vehicles approaching from behind you. In order for you to hear a siren, there should be nothing in your way.
When you hear a siren and the emergency vehicle’s lights are flashing, it implies that it is on its way to providing quick assistance in a time-sensitive emergency situation. Make sure you follow the regulations of the road; it could mean the difference between life and death.