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More Drivers Fail To Yield To Emergency Vehicles

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Jennifer Brice By Jennifer Brice
CBS4 Reporter
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DENVER (CBS4)- The law requires drivers to yield to emergency vehicles. Across the Denver metro area many drivers are not yielding or giving right-of-way to those vehicles like ambulances and fire trucks which puts their response in jeopardy.

The result can be life changing for the person who called 911 for help. Minutes are stolen when drivers don’t yield to emergency vehicles.

According to paramedics and firefighters, it’s happening now more than ever. In the business of saving lives and helping people, Littleton Firefighter & Paramedic Craig Silber said, “seconds and minutes do matter.”

CBS4 cameras rode along with local fire departments while they responded to dozens of emergencies over several days.

Those emergency vehicles had to confront several obstacles including one person strolling across the street, a car trying to dodge a fire truck at an intersection, congestion and confused drivers.

The biggest problem seems to be distracted drivers.

“It’s a distracting world we live in today with cell phones going off,” said Denver Fire Department Assistant Chief Ryan Nuanes. “The radio, people putting makeup on, eating, headphones… all kinds of things.”

It seems most people don’t even notice that emergency vehicles are behind them, even with lights flashing and sirens blaring.

Emergency crews say distracted driving is so common that they must put into practice defensive driving with each call both to and from a scene.

“You can tell by their reaction that they want to do something but they’re not sure what to do,” said Nuanes.

Emergency responders also said it’s common to see drivers slam on their break which is the wrong thing to do because it slows down emergency vehicles.

“These vehicles are so big, that you can’t stop them quick and maneuver them fast and it stops the whole evolution,” said Nuanes.

The correct way to handle the situation when approached by an emergency vehicle from either behind or in front is for drivers to safely pull to the far right of the road, even on the shoulder if needed.

Those drivers who cannot move or are stuck in an intersection are advised to wait until it’s safe and then move forward.

Because many vehicles on the road are soundproof, not allowing for siren sounds to come through, or filled with distracted drivers, that crews have actively trained for those problems on the road that may keep them from reaching an emergency in a timely manner.

“This may not be the time were coming to your house,” said Nuanes. “But when it is, you’re going to want us on top of our game.”

“It’s about perspective,” said Silber. “What would you want others to do for you?”

Drivers caught not yielding to an emergency vehicle could be fined $100 and have four points deducted from their driver’s license.

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