Yield Right of Way to Emergency Vehicles for Roadway Safety

It’s spring, which means that many Hoosiers and their families will be out on the roads enjoying the warm weather. It also means simultaneously (for better or worse) a lot of highway construction activity. In 1999, Indiana became the first state in the U.S. to pass a law requiring drivers to move over or slow down when approaching stopped emergency vehicles, including police cruisers on the side of the road in construction zones.

Indiana Code section 9-21-8-35 requires motorists to yield the right of way (and pull  over to the side) for an approaching an emergency vehicle with flashing lights or with a siren going. On a two-to-four-lane highway, however, motorists must change lanes away from the emergency vehicle if they can do so safely. Otherwise they must slow down and proceed with caution. Violating the law could result in a $10,000 fine and a driver’s license suspension.

In Indiana, emergency vehicles include police cars, ambulances, fire trucks, and rescue vehicles, highway incident response vehicles and highway work vehicles, and tow trucks.

Apparently police statistics indicate that an officer is more likely to be run over during a roadside traffic stop than he is to be shot or stabbed. Other emergency personnel and construction workers are also at risk when motorists don’t pay attention to what’s going on around them and fail to slow down when they see flashing lights. Be careful out there!

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