LEHI – Lehi firefighters are nervous about the hot and dry conditions combined with fireworks this holiday weekend. They’re also dealing with another problem: drivers not pulling over and letting fire trucks pass.
“Recently we’ve watched, as we’ve responded to scenes, vehicles not following state law of pulling over to the right or just not pulling over at all,” said Battalion Chief Jeff Smith.
In addition to drivers not stopping, Smith said they’re also seeing motorists pulling over to the left, which creates confusion and can increase response times.
“Seconds save lives in our business,” Smith said. “Loved ones are calling 911. It could be your loved one, could be your neighbor or friend, and we’re responding to scenes and then coming up to intersections or heavy traffic with vehicles stopped and not moving, which slows us down.”
Don’t Be An Inattentive Driver
Smith said some drivers are inattentive or distracted by their cellphones. While others could be frustrated with congested roads and rush-hour traffic.
“People with road rage,” he added. “Our guys have had people give inappropriate gestures with fingers — swear at them on scene.”
If you are driving and an emergency vehicle approaches with lights and sirens, Utah law requires that you move as close to the right side of the road as possible and stop until the vehicle passes.
“Check your lanes, don’t panic, pull over to the right and come to a complete stop,” Smith said.
The fire department said it understands that during traffic jams it may be impossible to get to the side of the road. In those cases, just move as far to the right as you can.
Also, be aware, it’s normally more than one emergency vehicle trying to get to a scene.
The Utah County Sheriff’s Office said it’s also seeing more bad behavior on the roads.
“People driving faster, maybe being a little bit more aggressive,” said Sgt. Spencer Cannon. “We’ve seen in some ways an increase in road rage.”
Cannon encouraged drivers to also obey Utah’s “Move Over” law that requires drivers to slow down and move over, if safely possible, for stopped emergency vehicles.
Cannon said he’s had several close calls, including one time after writing a traffic citation on the side of I-15.
“Came back to my truck, stepped in my truck and not 10 seconds after I stepped in my truck I get sideswiped,” he said. “If you don’t care to look out for the safety of law enforcement and fire and EMS and even emergency vehicles like tow trucks, if you don’t care about their safety, care about your own because if you hit them, your life and safety is at risk, too.”