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What are motorists supposed to do when they see flashing blue lights in motion?

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  • What are motorists supposed to do when they see flashing blue lights in motion?

    I am a cop, and this is the "Ask a Cop" section, but I'm not finding any threads on this subject, so I thought I'd throw this out there.

    Of all the things that the general population doesn't know, of all the questions they SHOULD be asking in the "Ask a Cop" section, this one would far and away be #1 to me. It is a subject that appears to utterly mystify about 95% of the general population, and getting it wrong can and does result in serious physical injury and or death.

    I find the lack of knowledge in this area this particularly ironic, because in order to get a driver's license, they had to pass a test that probably included this information. Even if their particular test didn't include this information, they gave their word in writing when they signed for their driver's license, that they would obey the laws of the state...including laws relating to this subject.

    So as the thread title states, what are motorists supposed to do when they see flashing police lights in motion?
    Last edited by Aidokea; 08-07-2019, 07:26 PM.

  • #2
    The answer to my question is actually very simple, requiring only two steps:




    Move ALL the way to the RIGHT, and then come to a COMPLETE stop, IMMEDIATELY.

    It is critically important that these two steps be performed IN THAT ORDER, and it is critically important that these two steps be performed IMMEDIATELY.

    .
    This means that doing anything OTHER than moving all the way to the right and then stopping immediately, is wrong. For example:


    .
    1. Slowing down to the speed limit or a little bit less, and continuing to drive with the right-side wheels of your vehicle on the shoulder, and the left side wheels of your vehicle still in the traffic lane, straddling the fog line. Just move to the right, and stop.


    .
    2. Moving to the left, into the path of the officer that's trying to pass you on your left. Just move to the right, and stop.


    .
    3. Awakening from your road coma as if struck by lightning, jerking the steering wheel back and forth a couple of times, and dynamiting the brakes IN the traffic lane. Just move to the right, and stop.


    .
    4. Ignoring the flashing police lights, because you don't think you did anything wrong. Police officers have medical training/equipment and police cars do 150mph. Ambulances do not do 150mph. If the baby dies, do you want to be the star of that dash-cam video? Just move to the right, and stop.


    .
    5. Ignoring the flashing police lights, because you're not sure which vehicle the officer is trying to pull over. Nobody asked you to try to read the officer's mind- just move to the right, and stop.


    .
    6. Ignoring the flashing police lights because the officer is going the opposite direction. It doesn't matter WHAT direction the officer is going- if he's in motion, you need to move to the right and stop.


    .
    7. Speeding up to try to make a left turn before the officer approaching you from the rear gets to you. The officer is going to try to pass you on your left- if you turn left into his path, he's going to drive right into your driver's door. Just move to the right, and stop.


    .
    8. Speeding up to try to make a left turn before an oncoming officer gets to you. Turning across his path is an incredibly dangerous, illegal, and stupid thing to do. Just move to the right, and stop.


    .
    9. Speeding up to try to make it through an intersection on the cross street- I have seen numerous traffic collisions IN intersections, caused by this one. Just move to the right, and stop.


    .
    10. Passing a motorist that moved to the right and stopped. That motorist moved to the right and stopped to make room for the officer that's going to try to pass them on their left- you moving into the officer's path is incredibly dangerous, illegal, and stupid. And if the officer is oncoming, the collision you cause may have a closing speed of over 200mph. Just move to the right, and stop.
    Last edited by Aidokea; 08-07-2019, 07:27 PM.

    Comment


    • #3
      In MY state flashing blue lights are for fire fighters ......................................

      True emergency vehicles in the state of Iowa MUST display a flashing RED light .

      Nearly all LE agencies run RED and BLUE lights, which is allowed by law but in reality the blue lights do not serve any purpose other than to draw attention to the RED light

      Ambulances owned by political subdivisions that respond to 911 calls are allowed to run BLUE light in addition to the RED ones required.

      Fire trucks can run only BlUE lights but the vast majority run both RED and BLUE

      In my state BLUE lights "request" passage and is used for identification only


      Iowa code 321.423
      Iowa code 321.433
      Last edited by Iowa #1603; 08-07-2019, 02:35 PM.
      Since some people need to be told by notes in crayon .......Don't PM me with without prior permission. If you can't discuss the situation in the open forum ----it must not be that important

      My new word for the day is FOCUS, when someone irritates you tell them to FOCUS

      Comment


      • Aidokea
        Aidokea commented
        Editing a comment
        Are you intentionally being obtuse? The topic of this thread is fairly unambiguous- the topic of this thread is not the idiosyncrasies of emergency vehicle lighting colors in your particular state. The topic of this thread is the appropriate and legally-required response to that emergency lighting, for the safety of everyone involved.

        For context, blue vehicle lights are required and/or authorized by state law for law enforcement use in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa (your state), Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming, in addition to countless other places all over the globe- it's a fairly universal thing.

        Do I really need to go back and edit my posts in order for you to stay on topic?

        In your state, the relevant law that you SHOULD be looking at, would be Iowa Code 321.324, which reads in part:

        " 1. For the purposes of this section, “red light” or “blue light” means a light or lighting device that, when illuminated, will exhibit a solid flashing or strobing red or blue light.
        2. Upon the immediate approach of an authorized emergency vehicle with any lamp or device displaying a red light or red and blue lights, or an authorized emergency vehicle of a fire department displaying a blue light, or when the driver is giving audible signal by siren, exhaust whistle, or bell, the driver of every other vehicle shall yield the right-of-way and shall immediately drive to a position parallel to, and as close as possible to, the right-hand edge or curb of the highway clear of any intersection and shall stop and remain in such position until the authorized emergency vehicle has passed, except when otherwise directed by a police officer.".

        https://www.legis.iowa.gov/docs/code/2016/321.324.pdf
        Last edited by Aidokea; 08-07-2019, 07:36 PM.

      • Iowa #1603
        Iowa #1603 commented
        Editing a comment
        You SPECIFICALLY asked what to do when you saw flashing BLUE lights.................

        I told you what I would do in my state

        Had you asked what to do when an emergency vehicle approaching..............I would have told you

        Again a vehicle with ONLY flashing blue lights is NOT an emergency vehicle in Iowa UNLESS it is a fire truck
        Last edited by Iowa #1603; 08-07-2019, 09:17 PM.

      • Aidokea
        Aidokea commented
        Editing a comment
        That's not true- at no time did you say what you would do in your state. You simply gave a dissertation on the colors of the lights on emergency vehicles in Iowa.

    • #4
      I don't think it is a lack of knowledge. I think a lot of drivers are too self absorbed to even know that an emergency vehicle is trying to do something.

      Comment


      • Aidokea
        Aidokea commented
        Editing a comment
        Bingo.....

    • #5
      Here, it's also, pull to the right and stop. A lot of people just don't seem to care.

      Comment


      • Aidokea
        Aidokea commented
        Editing a comment
        They would care if it was their baby that quit breathing.

      • Zeitgeist1
        Zeitgeist1 commented
        Editing a comment
        Yep, and I usually mentioned that when I wrote citations for that offense.

      • Aidokea
        Aidokea commented
        Editing a comment
        God bless you.

    • #6
      I guess it depends on the state. In California, amber means the vehicle may be creating a hazard and to use caution. Red means it is an emergency vehicle and when it approaches, everyone must pull to the right and stop. Blue, means the emergency vehicle is being operated by a police officer.

      However, I just got back from Texas and am still trying to figure out their lighting system. I saw red and blue on highway maintenance vehicles while some had all red and others had all blue.

      I saw funeral escort cars operated by morticians with red and blue. And when I arrived on the main drag of South Padre Island one evening I thought I had driven into a major disaster scene. As far as I could see there were brilliant red and blue lights on vehicles (and occasional green) filling Padre Boulevard. As I looked closer, they were not emergency vehicles, but festooned on the roofs of ATVs that were rented to the tourists.

      It got to the point that when I saw red or blur lights approach, I had to look hard to see if it was an authorized emergency vehicle seeking the right of way, or some jack***** on an ATV or a maintenance vehicle that forgot to turn their light bar off.
      Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

      Comment


      • Aidokea
        Aidokea commented
        Editing a comment
        I don't know of any state that requires motorists to do anything other than pull to the right and stop.

      • L-1
        L-1 commented
        Editing a comment
        I think my whole point was, sometimes (and depending where you are) it's hard to tell what an authorized emergency vehicle is and whether you need to pull over and yield right of way.

      • Aidokea
        Aidokea commented
        Editing a comment
        I understand what you're saying, but I'm having a hard time picturing it- I've traveled all over the world, and I've never had a problem figuring out when I needed to pull over and stop.

    • #7
      I always thought this should be standardized nationwide. Just like traffic lights, stop signs and double yellow lines, etc.
      I make my living on Irish welfare.

      Comment


      • Aidokea
        Aidokea commented
        Editing a comment
        It is standardized- pull to the right and stop. I don't know anyplace in the U.S. where the law requires people to do anything else.

    • #8
      Originally posted by reils49 View Post
      I always thought this should be standardized nationwide. Just like traffic lights, stop signs and double yellow lines, etc.
      You are correct. The identification of emergency vehicles should be standardized
      Since some people need to be told by notes in crayon .......Don't PM me with without prior permission. If you can't discuss the situation in the open forum ----it must not be that important

      My new word for the day is FOCUS, when someone irritates you tell them to FOCUS

      Comment


      • #9
        I think someone was having a bad day when they started this thread
        I make my living on Irish welfare.

        Comment


        • #10
          Dear motorists,

          while attempting to pull over to the right please also remember the following:

          1) Use caution when merging to the right. Do not recklessly pull into another vehicle's lane of travel causing a collision.

          2) Do not pull so far to the right that you get stuck in a ditch.

          3) Do not pull so far to the right that you go down an embankment.

          4) Do not pull onto the shoulder when an emergency vehicle is traveling on that shoulder.

          Yes, all of these have happened. None made me happy.

          Comment


          • Aidokea
            Aidokea commented
            Editing a comment
            If there's room for a police car to drive on the right shoulder, then there is room for traffic to move to the right so that the police can use the left traffic lane.

          • L-1
            L-1 commented
            Editing a comment
            I think the problem is getting the public to realize that and actually pull to the right in a timely manner. How many years have you been stuck behind a desk now?

          • not.in.MY.town
            not.in.MY.town commented
            Editing a comment
            Aidokea I'm talking about barely moving bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic on a multi-lane highway. It's not a question of whether there theoretically is enough room for cars to move to the right shoulder. It's a matter of actually doing it quickly and safely. Do you really expect ALL these motorists to co-operate and calmly re-arrange their vehicles in an orderly fashion? That's never going to happen, and it only takes a couple of incompetent drivers to completely box you in. If I want to do something about that baby that has stopped breathing...I'm taking the right shoulder.

          • Aidokea
            Aidokea commented
            Editing a comment
            I understand. But this thread isn't about what people do- it's about what they're supposed to do.

        • #11
          Originally posted by not.in.MY.town View Post
          Dear motorists,

          while attempting to pull over to the right please also remember the following:

          1) Use caution when merging to the right. Do not recklessly pull into another vehicle's lane of travel causing a collision.

          2) Do not pull so far to the right that you get stuck in a ditch.

          3) Do not pull so far to the right that you go down an embankment.

          4) Do not pull onto the shoulder when an emergency vehicle is traveling on that shoulder.

          Yes, all of these have happened. None made me happy.
          #4 used to really burn me up. While everyone else is patiently waiting, Mr/Ms. self important just has to go around them.

          Comment


          • Aidokea
            Aidokea commented
            Editing a comment
            I think he was talking about the RIGHT shoulder.

          • Zeitgeist1
            Zeitgeist1 commented
            Editing a comment
            Aidokea, I immediately envisioned gridlocked traffic and people making the situation worse. After re reading it, I'm not sure why.

          • not.in.MY.town
            not.in.MY.town commented
            Editing a comment
            Yes, I was referring to the right shoulder. Sorry for not being clear.

        • #12
          Originally posted by L-1 View Post
          I think the problem is getting the public to realize that and actually pull to the right in a timely manner.
          Yes. That's the point of this thread.

          Comment


          • #13
            What are motorists supposed to do when they see flashing blue lights in motion?
            In Colorado, call 911 and drive to a public area because they are being pulled over by an impersonator.

            Also, if it's a real cop and you know it's you he's pulling over... driving 50 yards father down to the pull off is OK.

            Move ALL the way to the RIGHT, and then come to a COMPLETE stop, IMMEDIATELY.
            No. Pulling all the way to the right and stopping on many roads here leaves the lane still 3/4 blocked because we have raised roadways with no shoulder. I've had people do exactly as you say, coming in different directions, and not been able to get thru because the gap between the cars was too small.

            Insisting that people do "X" in all situations and under all conditions makes no more sense than insisting a cop do "X" in all situations and conditions.
            Last edited by tanksoldier; 08-15-2019, 10:22 AM.
            "I am a Soldier. I fight where I'm told and I win where I fight." -- GEN George S. Patton, Jr.

            "With a brother on my left and a sister on my right, we face…. We face what no one should face. We face, so no one else would face. We are in the face of Death." -- Holli Peet

            Comment


            • #14
              Originally posted by tanksoldier View Post

              In Colorado, call 911 and drive to a public area because they are being pulled over by an impersonator.
              You may wish to familiarize yourself with Colorado Revised Statute 42-4-213:

              "42-4-213. Audible and visual signals on emergency vehicles.
              (1) Except as otherwise provided in this section or in section 42-4-222 in the case of volunteer fire vehicles and volunteer ambulances, every authorized emergency vehicle shall, in addition to any other equipment and distinctive markings required by this article, be equipped as a minimum with a siren and a horn. Such devices shall be capable of emitting a sound audible under normal conditions from a distance of not less than five hundred feet.
              (2) Every authorized emergency vehicle, except those used as undercover vehicles by governmental agencies, shall, in addition to any other equipment and distinctive markings required by this article, be equipped with at least one signal lamp mounted as high as practicable, which shall be capable of displaying a flashing, oscillating, or rotating red light to the front and to the rear having sufficient intensity to be visible at five hundred feet in normal sunlight. In addition to the required red light, flashing, oscillating, or rotating signal lights may be used which emit blue, white, or blue in combination with white.
              (3) A police vehicle, when used as an authorized emergency vehicle, may but need not be equipped with the red lights specified in this section."

              Also, if it's a real cop and you know it's you he's pulling over... driving 50 yards father down to the pull off is OK.
              My initial post covered mind-reading. The law does not required the motorist to guess what the officer's intent is- it just requires them to move to the right and stop.

              No. Pulling all the way to the right and stopping on many roads here leaves the lane still 3/4 blocked because we have raised roadways with no shoulder. I've had people do exactly as you say, coming in different directions, and not been able to get thru because the gap between the cars was too small.
              How wide are the traffic lanes that you're talking about? What make/model police vehicle do you drive?

              Insisting that people do "X" in all situations and under all conditions makes no more sense than insisting a cop do "X" in all situations and conditions.
              I don't make the rules:

              "42-4-705. Operation of vehicle approached by emergency vehicle - operation of vehicle approaching stationary emergency vehicle or stationary towing carrier vehicle. (1) Upon the immediate approach of an authorized emergency vehicle making use of audible or visual signals meeting the requirements of section 42-4-213 or 42-4-222, the driver of every other vehicle shall yield the right-of-way and where possible shall immediately clear the farthest left-hand lane lawfully available to through traffic and shall drive to a position parallel to, and as close as possible to, the right-hand edge or curb of a roadway clear of any intersection and shall stop and remain in that position until the authorized emergency vehicle has passed, except when otherwise directed by a police officer."

              Last edited by Aidokea; 08-15-2019, 07:59 PM.

              Comment


              • #15
                Originally posted by Aidokea View Post
                "42-4-705. Operation of vehicle approached by emergency vehicle - operation of vehicle approaching stationary emergency vehicle or stationary towing carrier vehicle. (1) Upon the immediate approach of an authorized emergency vehicle making use of audible or visual signals meeting the requirements of section 42-4-213 or 42-4-222, the driver of every other vehicle shall yield the right-of-way and where possible shall immediately clear the farthest left-hand lane lawfully available to through traffic and shall drive to a position parallel to, and as close as possible to, the right-hand edge or curb of a roadway clear of any intersection and shall stop and remain in that position until the authorized emergency vehicle has passed, except when otherwise directed by a police officer.".
                The statute itself acknowledges that there are exceptions to the general rule. If it ain't possible (due to layout, road conditions, traffic conditions etc.), it ain't possible.

                Comment


                • Aidokea
                  Aidokea commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I don't think anyone is going to have a problem with someone complying with the law at a velocity no faster than what is actually possible. That's why those laws are written that way.

                • not.in.MY.town
                  not.in.MY.town commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Aidokea The premise of your entire thread was that "doing anything OTHER than moving all the way to the right and then stopping immediately, is wrong".

                  Some of us pointed out exceptions to this general rule based on our own experience. You seem to have taken offense to that...

                • not.in.MY.town
                  not.in.MY.town commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I see you edited out your inflammatory comments to tanksoldier asking him if he passed EVOC, questioning if he went through the academy, and suggesting that he's clueless because he's a rookie.

                • Aidokea
                  Aidokea commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Yup. I thought I was talking to someone else.

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