HASSO HERING

A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Get out of the way, but how?

Written April 27th, 2015 by Hasso Hering
An Albany Fire and Rescue ambulance tries to get through traffic at Ninth and Geary Monday.

An Albany Fire and Rescue ambulance finally gets through traffic at Ninth and Geary Monday.

Most afternoons, around 4 and 5 p.m., Albany’s Pacific-Ninth one-way couplet is a busy place, traffic plugging all available lanes, backing up at lights. And when you hear sirens and see the flashing lights, what you’re supposed to do to let the emergency vehicles through is impossible and may actually hold them up.

What you’re supposed to do is pull to the right and stop. That’s what the Oregon Driver Manual says. The manual says nothing about what to do when you can’t go anywhere because you’e boxed in and the light ahead is red. I don’t know how often this happens, but I’ve seen it a few times over the years. The latest was on Monday afternoon.

Here’s what the manual says: “When you see or hear an emergency vehicle warning, you must immediately drive as close as is safely practical to the right-hand edge or curb of the road, clear of any intersection, and STOP. Stay stopped until the emergency vehicle has passed or until a police officer tells you to move.”

Waiting for the fire engine or ambulance to pass is hard to do when the rig with the flashing lights is stuck behind you and can’t move at all. As for pulling to the right, that’s risky when you’re in the left or middle lanes and the lanes to your right are full.

The smart thing, I would think, is for drivers in the left lanes to pull to the left if they can, for drivers on the right side of the road to pull right if possible, thereby opening a lane in the middle for the emergency rigs to squeeze through. For that to work, though, drivers up and down the line have to use their heads and all do the correct thing. If just one screws up and dodges left instead of right, or vice versa, we’re as bad off as before, and somewhere in town somebody may be hoping for an ambulance before he bleeds out.

I know we can’t live without rules, and the advice in the driver manual is probably based on some section of the Oregon Revised Statutes and therefore has the effect of law. But I wish the official instructions in the manual could say something like this: “When you hear sirens or see emergency vehicles, do your best to get out of their way any way you can without running into anybody else.” (hh)



   


Comments are closed.

 

 
HH Today: A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley
Albany Albany Carousel Albany City Council Albany council Albany downtown Albany Fire Department Albany housing Albany parks Albany Planning Commission Albany police Albany Post Office Albany Public Works Albany riverfront Albany Station Albany streets Albany traffic Albany urban renewal Andy Olson Benton County Benton County parks bicycling bike lanes Bowman Park Bryant Park Calapooia River CARA City of Albany climate change coronavirus COVID-19 Cox Creek path Crocker Lane cumberland church cycling Dave Clark Path Daylight saving time downtown Albany Edgewater Village global warming gun control Highway 20 Interstate 5 Kitzhaber Linn County marijuana medical marijuana Millersburg North Albany Road Obama ODOT Oregon coast Oregon legislature Oregon passenger rail Pacific Power Portland & Western Republic Services Riverside Drive Santiam Canal Talking Water Gardens The Banks Tom Cordier Union Pacific urban renewal Water Avenue Willamette River


Copyright 2020. All Rights Reserved. Hasso Hering.
Website Serviced by Santiam Communications
Hasso Hering