We all know that emergency vehicles have privileged status under Louisiana traffic laws.
But did you know that you can be convicted of a crime if you don’t follow the law when approached by an emergency vehicle?
Although we learn these laws to pass our driver’s license exam, they can be easy to forget.
What is an authorized emergency vehicle?
Our obligations as drivers kick in when we are approached by “authorized emergency vehicles” using legally required sounds and lights. In Louisiana, an “authorized emergency vehicle” includes:
- fire trucks and vehicles, including volunteer fire department vehicles;
- police vehicles and bicycles;
- weights and standards police vehicles;
- ambulances; and
- municipality emergency vehicles.
When approached by one of these vehicles, a driver must do three things.
- Yield the right-of-way
- Immediately drive to the right side of the highway, but not in an intersection.
- Stop your car and remain in that position until the emergency vehicle passes or you are told to do otherwise by a police officer.
Failing to follow these laws can subject you to a fine of up to $200 if you are convicted.
Louisiana drivers must also follow special laws if they approach parked emergency vehicles with their flashing lights on. On a road that has at least two lanes moving in the same direction, drivers must move into the lane that is not next to the parked emergency vehicle.
If that is not possible because of traffic or safety, drivers must “slow to a reasonably safe speed.”
If the parked emergency vehicle is on a two-lane road, other drivers are required by law to “[m]aintain a safe speed for road conditions.”
Under Louisiana law, authorized emergency vehicles that are responding to emergencies, pursuing known or suspected criminals, or responding to fire alarms have special privileges. They can go through stop signs and lights, exceed the speed limit, and make what would normally be considered illegal turns. However, they must always drive “with due regard for the safety of all persons.”
Were you injured in a wreck with an emergency vehicle in New Orleans?
If you were injured in a wreck with an emergency vehicle, you may be entitled to money damages. The attorneys at Wright & Gray know the laws that apply to emergency vehicles, and we can help you understand your rights.