What to do when you see a volunteer emergency vehicle has their lights flashing

Local News

CLEARFIELD COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) – Confusion is somewhat common when an emergency vehicle has their lights flashing.

As a driver, you may think you have to pull over and give these cars the right of way. In most cases, that’s true. But it’s important to know that not all lights mean the same thing.

It all depends on the color of the lights on top of the vehicle, and how many. If you see a single blue light, that means it’s a volunteer.

While it’s common courtesy to pull over to allow these first responders around you as they’re heading to an emergency situation, they still must still abide to all the rules of the road. Many pull over, but others?

“Some do but some don’t. Some just stay in the way,” said Geraldine Bell, a Ridgway resident who says she does pull over when she sees volunteer first responders on the road.

They must stop at all stop signs, traffic lights and they have to drive the speed limit. City of DuBois police chief Blaine Clark says their volunteer department stopped using these lights in 2011, citing heavy congestion on roads leading to problems for all drivers.

“It’s helpful when people do respond, but sometimes we find it leads to some confusion,” Clark said. “They have to use due regard while responding. They’re basically a courtesy to let people know they are responding.”

Knowing the difference can keep you out of falling for a false situation, or thinking the responder has more authority than they hold.

That was the case in March, when a volunteer fire chief made an illegal traffic stop in DuBois using his emergency lights, which were red. He was later arrested for impersonating a public servant.

Clark urges all drivers that if you are pulled over by a vehicle with these emergency lights, that you should stop in a well lit area. Adding that if you question whether the stop is legitimate to call 9-1-1.

“Make sure it is a law enforcement vehicle, and if you have questions call 9-1-1,” Clark said.

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