PATCH EDITOR BRAD KAVA WILL GET YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED FROM LOCAL POLICE AGENCIES. POST THEM IN THE COMMENTS BELOW OR EMAIL HIM AT BRAD.KAVA@PATCH.COM.
Q: Yesterday on Highway 17, as a police car was flashing red and blue lights in the left lane, no one stopped. Most left the left lane, but just drove as usual in the right lane. What are we supposed to do?
Answer, from California Highway Patrol Officer Bradley Sadek:
The black and white letter of the law is to move to the right and stop. The spirit and purpose of the law is to expedite the flow of first responders heading to emergency scenes. That being said, on the freeway, it is quite rare to see people pulling completely to the right and stopping on the shoulder when emergency personnel are driving “Code-Three” (with lights and siren activated). The vast majority of motorists simply move to the right-most lane and allow the emergency vehicles to pass. This technique while not specifically “Legal” allows the emergency personnel to respond quickly and safely while also allowing driver to move out of the way.
The most common issue we encounter when “Rolling Code-Three” is motorists refusing to yield (often due to a lack of attention and distraction) or motorists yielding to the left which is the most dangerous thing to do when encountering emergency vehicles."
For those who have forgotten the law since their last driver's test, here is vehicle code section 21806:
Upon the immediate approach of an authorized emergency vehicle which is sounding a siren and which has at least one lighted lamp exhibiting red light that is visible, under normal atmospheric conditions, from a distance of 1,000 feet to the front of the vehicle, the surrounding traffic shall, except as otherwise directed by a traffic officer, do the following:
(a) (1) Except as required under paragraph (2), the driver of every other vehicle shall yield the right-of-way and shall immediately drive to the right-hand edge or curb of the highway, clear of any intersection, and thereupon shall stop and remain stopped until the authorized emergency vehicle has passed.
(2) A person driving a vehicle in an exclusive or preferential use lane shall exit that lane immediately upon determining that the exit can be accomplished with reasonable safety.
(b) The operator of every street car shall immediately stop the street car, clear of any intersection, and remain stopped until the authorized emergency vehicle has passed.
(c) All pedestrians upon the highway shall proceed to the nearest curb or place of safety and remain there until the authorized emergency vehicle has passed.”