When police, fire and EMS are driving with their lights and sirens on, every second counts in reaching their destination. And for first responders to safely reach their destination, we rely on other drivers to do their part as well.

Please remember and practice: When you’re driving and hear police, fire or ambulance sirens, move as far to the right as possible and come to a complete stop (or slow down as much as possible) until the first responders have passed you. Stop before entering an intersection, no matter what color the light is, to allow the emergency vehicle to safely pass through. Many severe accidents involving emergency vehicles occur at intersections.

In addition, if an emergency vehicle is stopped on the side of the road with lights on, move over to safely pass.

It’s not just courtesy or safety, it’s the law.

Louisiana law (RS 32:125) states that upon the immediate approach of an authorized emergency vehicle using audible or visual signals, or of a police vehicle properly using an audible signal only, the driver of every other vehicle shall yield the right-of-way and shall immediately drive to a position parallel 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. It also states that motorists on a highway must make a lane change, if possible, when any emergency vehicle with flashing lights is stopped on the shoulder. If motorists cannot switch lanes, they are to slow down.

Texas law states that when you approach a stopped emergency vehicle with lights flashing, you are required to move a lane away from the emergency vehicle, or slow down 20 miles per hour below the posted speed limit. You must yield the right-of-way to police cars, fire trucks, ambulances, and other emergency vehicles sounding a siren, bell, or flashing red light. If traffic allows, pull to the right edge of the road and stop. If you are unable to pull over to the right, slow down and leave a clear path for the emergency vehicle. (Texas DPS)

Mississippi law states that upon the immediate approach of an authorized emergency vehicle, when the driver is giving audible signal by siren, exhaust whistle or bell, 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 roadway 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 law enforcement officer. Upon approaching a stationary authorized emergency vehicle, when such vehicle is giving a signal by use of flashing, blinking, oscillating or rotating lights, a person who drives an approaching vehicle shall proceed with due caution, yield the right-of-way by making a lane change into a lane not adjacent to that of the authorized emergency vehicle or proceed with due caution and reduce the speed of the vehicle if changing lanes would be impossible or unsafe.

Tennessee law states that upon the immediate approach of an authorized emergency vehicle making use of audible and visual signals meeting the requirements of the applicable laws of this state, 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 roadway clear of any intersection, and shall stop and remain in that position until the authorized emergency vehicle has passed, except when otherwise directed by a police officer. Upon approaching a stationary authorized emergency vehicle, when the vehicle is giving a signal by use of flashing lights, a person who drives an approaching vehicle shall proceed with due caution, yield the right-of-way by making a lane change into a lane not adjacent to that of the authorized emergency vehicle, if possible with due regard to safety and traffic conditions or proceed with due caution, reduce the speed of the vehicle and maintain a safe speed for road conditions.

Distracted driving is an issue as well. Drivers are less aware of approaching emergency vehicles due to texting or using a cell phone, eating or changing the radio station. Please put your phones away and just drive.