Every year in the U.S., there are almost 16,000 collisions involving fire department emergency vehicles while responding to or returning from incidents. These collisions have resulted in over 1,000 firefighter injuries and just under 50 deaths.

When you or someone you love needs emergency care, you want help to arrive as quickly as possible.  So what can drivers do to help emergency responders provide this emergency assistance as quickly as possible? It’s as simple as Moving to the Right for Sirens and Lights!

Unfortunately, people often panic or simply don’t adhere to the rules of the road for approaching emergency vehicles. The law is very specific (see ORS excerpt below); drivers must yield the right-of-way to an emergency vehicle.  Failure to yield can cause serious accidents or delays in ambulances, fire engines, and other emergency vehicles arriving at the scene of an emergency.

Corvallis Fire Personnel are careful to avoid vehicle collisions by driving slowly when traveling against traffic, or coming to a complete stop at intersections. However, the cooperation of ALL vehicles on the roadway is essential.

Here are some simple rules to follow when you’re on the road and encounter an emergency vehicle:


  • Don’t disregard the presence of the emergency vehicle by continuing to drive.
  • Don’t panic.
  • Don’t play your radio so loudly that you are unable to hear sirens.
  • Don’t stop in the middle lane when there is room to pull to the right.
  • Don’t pull to the left in the center lane or left turn lane.
  • Don’t race ahead to make the green light or turn before the emergency vehicle gets there.
  • Don’t turn quickly to the left onto a street or driveway.
  • Don’t drive through a red light or stop sign when an emergency vehicle approaches from behind.
  • If the emergency vehicle is traveling in the opposite direction of a divided highway or street, you do not need to pull over.


  • Stay calm.
  • Pull to the right and come to a complete stop.
  • If you’re traveling on a high-speed road and there is no room to stop, slow down as much as possible.
  • If you are in the left lane, pull over into the right lane as traffic in the lane to your right moves over.
  • If you cannot move to the right because of another vehicle or obstacle, just stop. Your action will let the driver of the emergency vehicle know what you are doing and allow the driver to anticipate where to drive.
  • When an emergency vehicle approaches you from behind while you are stopped at an intersection, stay where you are unless you can pull to the right.
  • On a 4-lane highway or street without barriers, both sides of traffic should pull to the right.
  • Drivers should stay at least 500 feet behind emergency vehicles.

811.145 Failure to yield to emergency vehicle or ambulance; penalty. (1) A person commits the offense of failure to yield to an emergency vehicle or ambulance if an ambulance or emergency vehicle that is using a visual or audible signal in a manner described under ORS 820.300 and 820.320 approaches the vehicle the person is operating and the person does not do all of the following:

(a) Yield the right of way to the ambulance or emergency vehicle.

(b) Immediately drive to a position as near as possible and parallel to the right-hand edge or curb of the roadway clear of any intersection.

(c) Stop and remain in such position until the emergency vehicle or ambulance has passed.

(2) A person is not in violation of this section if the person is acting as otherwise directed by a police officer.

(3) This section does not relieve the driver of an emergency vehicle or ambulance from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons using the highway, nor does this section protect the driver of any such vehicle from the consequence of an arbitrary exercise of the right of way granted under this section.

(4) The offense described in this section, failure to yield to an emergency vehicle or ambulance, is a Class B traffic violation. [1983 c.338 §582; 1985 c.16 §289; 1995 c.383 §46]