Monday, May 12, 2008

A Public Service Announcement 

I'd heard about this being a problem in other cities, but over the last three days have seen it be a problem in LA at least four times. That is -- idiot drivers who don't pull over when an emergency vehicle approaches with lights and sirens blazing.

It's real simple, folks. As soon as you hear the siren or see the lights, check to see where they're coming from. If the siren is approaching, pull over to the right and stop. If you can see the lights, definitely pull over to the right and stop.

It can't get much easier than that. Ambulance, fire engine, police car approaching? Get the hell out of the way. The thirty seconds you'll have to stop are nothing compared to the thirty extra seconds an emergency vehicle may take if you don't get your spoiled, stupid ass out of the way. And thirty seconds can be the difference between life an death.

The most heinous example of siren stupidity happened to me tonight. I drove away from work. Not fifty feet from the driveway, sirens approached. I couldn't pull over any further to the right, so stopped in the right lane, next to parked cars. A fire engine was approaching from ahead... and the asshat in the car behind be honked twice, pissed off that I was blocking his way. After his second honk, I yelled back at him, "Siren, asshole." He tried to pass me, then realized an emergency vehicle was approaching. Well, duh.

I really have no objection to all emergency vehicles being armed with Google Map Cameras, which activate as soon as they hit the siren. They'd photograph all cars on their route, then someone would review the footage on their return, and use captured license plate data to send hefty tickets and summonses to triple traffic school to the morons who don't give right of way.

It's a problem I've seem time and again -- especially when the emergency vehicle is approaching from the opposite direction. People seem to have forgotten that the concept of "pull over to the right and stop" is universal. The only time you don't do that for an oncoming emergency vehicle is when you're travelling on a divided road -- when the "divided" is by a concrete barrier. Otherwise -- get the hell over, because that oncoming vehicle is likely to swing into your lanes of traffic to get around the assholes who haven't pulled over in their lanes.

Once upon a time, a siren would clear all lanes of traffic in both directions. For some reason in LA, that isn't likely anymore. And the only way to stop it is to yank the license from any twatwaffle who thinks shortening their commute is more important than saving the life on the other end of that siren. Arm police, fire and medical vehicles with evidence gathering technology, then let the chips fall where they may.

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