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“Move over!” – Michigan’s emergency vehicle caution law

January 24, 2013 by Steven M. Gursten

New blog series: Little known Michigan traffic laws

emergency vehicle stoppedEven people who pride themselves on being very careful drivers probably don’t know all the traffic laws in this state. if you’ve lived in Michigan your entire life, chances are you might be surprised now and then.

I’ve decided to have a bit of fun with all of the crazy questions I’ve gotten at parties or when I meet people, not to mention after nearly 20 years of seeing just about every type of automobile accident possible, and write a new blog series on little known traffic laws.

We all wonder from time to time while driving  “Is it legal to turn on red right here?” Hopefully you aren’t thinking you’ll finally get the answer when you get pulled over.

Oh, and then we can add to this all  the local ordinances that vary by city.

So starting today, I’ll be writing once a week to address these little known or crazy traffic laws.  Hopefully this will be fun and also help inform Michigan drivers about some of the “lesser known” traffic laws out there, for those “I think this is legal but I’m just not sure….” types of moments.

With all the news about auto accidents lately due to  winter, we’re starting our series with Michigan’s emergency vehicle caution law.

This law is over 10 years old.  It was enacted to help protect  local law enforcement, fire fighters and even tow truck drivers while they help out after an auto accident, rendering assistance to accident victims, and people we see on the side of the road with car trouble..

Here’s the law, according to the Michigan Legislature website: Section 257.653a

1. Upon approaching and passing an authorized stationary emergency vehicle with flashing lights, the driver of an approaching vehicle must:

a. On any public roadway with at least two adjacent lanes proceeding in the same direction of the emergency vehicle, proceed with caution and yield the right-of-way by moving into a lane at least one moving lane or two vehicle widths apart from the emergency vehicle, unless directed otherwise by a police officer. If this movement is not possible due to weather, road conditions or the presence of  traffic or pedestrians, go to step b:

b. The approaching vehicle should reduce and maintain a safe speed for weather, road conditions and traffic, and proceed with due care and caution, or as directed by a police officer.

Penalties for violating Michigan’s emergency vehicle caution law

  • If you violate the law: You are guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than $500 or imprisonment for not more than 90 days, or both.
  • If you violate the law and cause injury to a police officer, firefighter or other emergency response personnel:  You are guilty of a felony punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000 or imprisonment for not more than two years, or both.
  • If you violate the law and cause death to a police officer, firefighter or other emergency response personnel: You are guilty of a felony punishable by a fine of not more than $7,500 or by imprisonment for not more than 15 years, or both.

Take it seriously.  The fines and punishments for not driving with caution around emergency vehicles are very serious.

Next week, I will take on the law on Michigan left turns, and when it’s legal to turn left on a red light.

 – Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, by tsairprogram

Related information:

Michigan car accident FAQs

 

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