Stopping for Sirens

In this day and age, it’s rare to see people even slow down for an emergency vehicle, let alone pull over and come to a complete stop.
Montana law is that “Upon the immediate approach of an authorized emergency vehicle making use of audible and visual signals, the operator of every other vehicle shall immediately drive to a position as close as possible to, the right-hand edge or curb of the roadway and shall stop and remain in that position until the authorized emergency vehicle has passed.”
Mike Clayton, a teacher at Bozeman High School and a long time driver’s education instructor, says students in the driver’s education program are well informed of the protocol involved with emergency vehicles.
“[Drivers education has] a guest speaker and a highway patrol officer come and talk to the group,” Clayton says.

He explains that the most prominent reason for drivers not stopping when emergency vehicles sound their sirens is most likely distracted driving.
Clayton says that when drivers listen to music via headphones or loud speakers, the sirens become virtually impossible to hear.
He adds that many drivers are also simply not in the habit of checking their mirrors, which is often where the flashing, emergency lights would be evident–add the factor of impaired hearing with the lack of visual sight on emergency vehicle lights, and as Clayton says, “it’s unlikely a driver would even realize the emergency vehicle was there.”
He concludes that the lack of drivers who actually abide by the Montana state law is due to distracted driving, rather than pure ignorance.
“I bet about nine out of ten people know they’re supposed to stop,” says Clayton.
Bozeman High School freshman Cameron Lang completed the driver’s education curriculum earlier this school year and says he knew what the protocol involving emergency vehicles was before his driver’s education session began. Lang says the curriculum surrounding this subject was rather vague.
“They just kind of assumed that we knew [what to do when approached by an emergency vehicle],” says Lang.
“You pull over to the right and stop,” he says.

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