Emergency Responders Stress Abiding By Traffic Laws

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Marty Nelson is a paramedic with Sebastian County EMS and Rescue.

“I’ve been full time paramedic 9 years almost,” Nelson said.

On Sunday, during an emergency response, he almost had an accident due to a car failing to yield.

“There’s been several instances,” Nelson said. “I’ve been involved in one accident while I’ve been here in Sebastian County, thankfully nobody was hurt.”

Emergency responders say they face these obstacles on nearly a daily basis.

“People pull into intersections to stop, and they’ll be in the intersection, they’ll be blocking the road that we want to turn on, the cross street; newer vehicles these days, they built them to be sound proof. People have their music on, they’re on the cell phone, whatever,” Capt. Ryan Rains, Fort Smith Fire Department said.

Officials say while sometimes drivers are distracted or not paying attention, many times it’s simply being unfamiliar with traffic laws regarding emergency vehicles.

“The law states that when you’re approached by an emergency vehicle and you hear the sirens and see the lights, the bell whatever the alert from the vehicle is, that you immediately pull to the right, as close to the curb as possible,” Rains said.

A lot of people especially in four lanes will try to pull over to the left, they’ll stop right in the middle of the highway, and they want us to go around them on the right, which we’re not supposed to do, we’re supposed to pass everybody on the left,” Nelson said.

A citation for failing to yield to an emergency vehicle can cost you up to $400. A 2013 revision to Act 579 of the “Move Over Law” states when you see a vehicle with flashing lights, you now have to yield to utility vehicles and city officials as well.