Georgia Traffic Law on Emergency Vehicles
We regularly review traffic law enforcement dashboard video in the personal injury cases we handle. Quick response to emergency calls can mean the difference between life and death. That’s true whether the call is a crime, a car wreck, or some other incident.
One thing I’ve noticed watching these dashboard videos is how often drivers do not move over for emergency vehicles or they try and beat the emergency vehicle through an intersection. These drivers slow down response times and can even cause wrecks to happen.
So what is the law in Georgia? There are actually a couple of laws that you need to be familiar with concerning emergency vehicles.
The first is what to do when approached by an authorized emergency vehicle or a vehicle belonging to a federal, state, or local law enforcement agency making use of an audible signal and visual signals. The law says the driver “…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 roadway clear of any intersection and shall stop and remain in such position until the authorized emergency vehicle or law enforcement vehicle has passed, except when otherwise directed by a police officer” (Emphasis added). This Georgia law can be found at O.C.G.A. §40-6-74. Don’t keep moving thinking you can get to your turn before the emergency vehicle gets to you. Don’t just stop in your lane unless you absolutely cannot get over to the right hand curb.
The second is how to respond when you see a stationary emergency vehicle displaying flashing yellow, amber, white, red, or blue lights or a stationary towing or recovery vehicle or a stationary highway maintenance vehicle that is displaying flashing yellow, amber, or red lights. This Georgia law, found at O.C.G.A. §40-6-74, says absent any other direction by a peace officer, you should:
(1) Make a lane change into a lane not adjacent to the emergency vehicle or towing or recovery vehicle. And if you cannot do that because it would be impossible, prohibited by law, or unsafe, then you should (2) reduce the speed of your car to a reasonable and proper speed for the existing road and traffic conditions, which speed must be less than the posted speed limit, and be prepared to stop.
We never know when our life of the life of someone we love will be dependent on emergency vehicles being able to get to us safely and quickly. Know what the law requires of you and then please do it!