Road Rules for All Kinds of Flashing Signals
Flashing signals—think school buses, police cars and snowplows—are commonplace on the road. The rules on how to deal with them are not.
Drivers can log many miles before stumbling upon a school bus, a snowplow or a police officer. But when this does occur, it’s important to know what to do. If you spot flashing lights, follow this basic rule: Slow down and be safe. Here are additional tips for safely approaching different situations:
Although laws regarding the correct way to approach a slowing school bus vary by state, it’s best to be cautious. If the school bus’ lights are flashing, stop—no matter the road or number of lanes.
A snowplow driver’s visibility is just as limited as yours, so don’t assume he can see you. Approach snowplows slowly and carefully, stay far enough behind to avoid blowing snow, and think twice before passing.
Do your part to keep construction workers safe—and avoid a hefty fine—by slowing down in construction zones. Lowering your speed reduces braking time and gives you a few extra milliseconds to react.
When approaching police and other emergency personnel, abide by your state’s “move over” law. In general, you should take your foot off the gas and move to the left when you see a stopped police car.
Speeding past a funeral procession is disrespectful and dangerous. Practice patience and slow down along with the procession. Avoid passing on two-lane roads, as there is no way to know the number of cars involved. Finally, when processions cross your path at an intersection, stay put—even if you have a green light.
When you hear sirens from an ambulance or fire truck, don’t just slow down or stop: Clear the lane entirely. If you happen to be in or near an intersection, drive through that intersection before pulling over. Pause before you continue driving, and check for other emergency vehicles that may follow the first.