September, 2010 – We all want to reach our destinations safely when we�re on the road, but the safety of others we encounter while we travel is just as important. “On average each year in Saskatchewan, there are 60 vehicle crashes involving an emergency vehicle, resulting in approximately 17 injuries. Prevention, by following safety guidelines when meeting emergency vehicles, can reduce the number of crashes and injuries,” said Shannon Ell, SGI�s Manager of Traffic Safety Promotion.
Drivers must slow to 60 km/h in highway construction or orange zones, when encountering emergency vehicles (ambulances, fire trucks, and police vehicles), tow trucks stopped on the roadside and around snow plows in winter. There are some rules that apply specifically to meeting emergency vehicles on the road:
- The emergency vehicle always has the right of way when its siren is sounding and lights are flashing.
- You must stop and let the emergency vehicle through at intersections.
- If your vehicle is approached by an emergency vehicle with its lights or siren activated, you are required to move as close as possible to the right side of the road (or choose the nearest curb when driving on a one-way street). You should not enter the next intersection until after the emergency vehicle has passed through. The only exception to this is if a peace officer gives you other directions.
- If the emergency vehicle is stopped on the highway with its lights engaged, you must slow down to 60 km/h when passing it (unless you are travelling in the opposite direction on a divided highway).
- Do not try to follow the emergency vehicle as it goes to or comes from an emergency.
The warmer months in Saskatchewan mean that municipal and highway workers are busy improving roads and infrastructure.
“Drivers are more likely to come across construction or orange zones in the summer and fall. They should familiarize themselves with ongoing construction projects on their route and plan ahead. They should also remember the traffic safety precautions they need to take in orange zones,” said Ell.
Drivers should keep these requirements in mind when going through construction areas:
- Orange signs indicate construction, and may designate the start of the orange zone, which requires all traffic to slow to 60 km/h or less when passing a worker, flagsperson or equipment occupied by a worker.
- You must slow to 60 km/h when passing Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure equipment (including snow plows), whether parked or in motion, when the warning lights are on.
- Drivers should watch for workers and flagspeople, and be prepared to stop or slow down even more.
- Some municipalities require drivers to slow to 60 km/h through the whole orange zone. You should familiarize yourself with local traffic bylaws and watch for signs indicating construction speed limits.
“Next time you�re on the road, keep your eyes peeled for emergency vehicles, tow trucks and construction areas, and be prepared to slow down or move your vehicle out of the way as the situation requires. By following traffic safety guidelines and reducing your speed to 60 km/h, you�ll make sure that everyone is safe on the road. Including those counting on you to slow down and get out of the way while they do their jobs,” said Ell.
Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) is the province’s self-sustaining auto insurance fund. SGI operates 21 claims centres and five salvage centres across Saskatchewan with a head office in Regina. SGI also works with a network of more 400 motor licence issuers across the province. www.sgi.sk.ca.