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UPDATE: Final Minnesota legislative bills may be passed in middle of the night

Here comes an emergency vehicle! What do I do now?

Here are some helpful tips on how to properly yield to emergency vehicles. There are two important ways to yield to emergency vehicles.

The first way is when you are driving down the road and notice an emergency vehicle coming up from behind you with their lights and siren on. This emergency vehicle — whether it’s a fire truck, ambulance or police vehicle — is actively trying to get to the site of an emergency. It is the law that the motoring public must yield to the emergency vehicle. Please move out of the way. The proper way to do this is to get into the right, outside lane if you are on a four-lane road. If it is only a two-lane road then move over onto the shoulder.

If there is no shoulder, slow down, pull off the road and stop. Wait for the emergency vehicle to pass you and make sure it is safe to pull back onto the roadway before entering. If a police car is behind with the emergency lights on, and stays behind you, it may mean that you are being pulled over.

The second way you must yield to an emergency vehicle is when they are pulled over to the side of the road with the emergency lights on. Generally, emergency vehicles with their emergency lights on indicate they are actively working roadside or in a lane of traffic. There could be a crash scene, a fire, debris in the road, a motorist assist or a traffic stop.

The lights indicate the emergency worker being fire, police or ambulance could be in and out of their vehicle working on a emergency scene. Use caution when passing and get as far away from the emergency vehicles as you can. If the emergency vehicle is on the shoulder of a four-lane highway, get into the inside lane. If you are unable to get into the inside lane because of another vehicle, you must slow down and pass with caution. If the speed limit is 70 mph, driving 70 mph or slowing down to 65 mph is not good enough.

If there is no other way to get around the emergency vehicle, slow way down when passing. This law has been put into place because there has been too many firefighters, paramedics/Emergency Medical Technicians and police officers killed from someone hitting them in a car. Remember, these laws are put into place to protect you and all emergency workers. The emergency workers are here to help you, and we can do that to the best of our abilities with your help.

Try to keep the intersections clear, you never know which way the emergency vehicles will be going. Never try to follow an emergency vehicle. If you come to an intersection where it is blocked by emergency vehicles always be on the look-out for more vehicles entering the scene. Pay attention at all times. You never know when an emergency vehicle will cross your path. It is a good idea to check your mirrors frequently and try to keep the radio at a low level. Keeping the window cracked will help you hear an approaching siren.

In our Brainerd lakes area we have many emergency vehicles traveling the state, county and local roadways. On a daily basis there are emergencies happening. I can say on a personal note that people need to become more aware of our family of emergency workers. We are all there to help you with your emergency.

As I always say, “Be safe and drive safe.” For more questions on this matter please call any one of the emergency personnel in our community. Our number here at Brainerd Fire/Rescue is 828-2312.