LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - It’s a state law that when you see an emergency vehicle with their lights flashing on the side of the road, you are supposed to move over a lane if you can.
“Louisiana Revised Statute 32.125 is a traffic regulation where the use of law enforcement or any authorized vehicle by law that is on the shoulder or near the shoulder, near the roadway with the use of their lights that all drivers that all drivers must move over one lane,” Trooper Derek Senegal with Louisiana State Police said. “If there are two or more lanes going in the same direction, they have to move over one lane safely. If they can’t do it safely, they do have to slow down to a reasonable speed.”
The law states: Procedure on approach of an authorized emergency vehicle; passing a parked emergency vehicle
A. Upon the immediate approach of an authorized emergency vehicle making use of audible or visual signals, or of a police vehicle properly and lawfully making use of an audible signal only, the driver of every other vehicle 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 highway clear of any intersection, and shall stop and remain in such position until the authorized emergency vehicle has passed, except when otherwise directed by a police officer.
B. When any vehicle making use of any visual signals as authorized by law, including the display of alternately flashing amber or yellow warning lights, is parked on or near the highway, the driver of every other vehicle shall:
(1) When driving on an interstate highway or other highway with two or more lanes traveling in the same direction, yield the right-of-way by making a lane change into a lane not adjacent to the parked vehicle, if possible with due regard to safety and traffic conditions. If a lane change is not possible, the driver shall slow to a reasonably safe speed.
(2) Maintain a safe speed for road conditions, if unable or unsafe to change lanes, or driving on a two-lane road or highway.
C. This Section shall not operate to relieve the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons using the highway.
D. Any person who violates the provisions of this Section shall, upon conviction, be subject to a fine not to exceed two hundred dollars.
Senegal said it’s not just about following the rules of the road, it’s also about first responders’ safety. An NBC News report said since the start of 2019, 17 first responders across the United States have been struck and killed while on duty on the side of the road, whether issuing a traffic violation or providing aid.
“We’ve had vehicles where they were paying attention or they are looking at us or they want to take video or take a picture while we are working on the side of the road," Senegal said. "We’ve had instances where we are working and they’ll do things like that and we’ll go ahead and conduct a traffic stop and issue them a citation.”
Senegal said that citation can cost drivers up to $200.
According to NAEMT, or the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians, April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. A survey by the National Safety Council and the Emergency Responder Safety Institute shows 71% of U.S. drivers take photos or videos when they see an emergency vehicle on the side of the road responding to a fire, crash, or a simple routine traffic stop. 60% post it to social media and 66% send an email about the situation while they are still driving.
Senegal said to always be aware of your surroundings, be vigilant while on the road, and remember to move over or slow down when you see flashing lights: it’s the law.