There is a disturbing trend taking hold of drivers not pulling over to the side of the road when being approached by emergency vehicles.
The Highway Traffic Act is very clear that “When an emergency vehicle is approaching your vehicle from any direction with its flashing red or red and blue lights, or siren or bell sounding, you are required to bring your vehicle to an immediate stop.” You are required to pull your vehicle as close to the right hand curb of the road as possible but not onto the shoulder of the road in the event the emergency vehicles require that lane. If you are in an intersection you must clear it by moving through it. You should abandon your turn and go straight through if it is safe.
Here are some guidelines directly from the Ontario Driver’s Handbook:
When you see an approaching emergency vehicle with its lights or siren on, prepare to clear the way.
React quickly but calmly. Don’t slam on the brakes or pull over suddenly. Use your signals to alert other drivers you intend to pull over.
Check your rearview mirrors. Look in front and on both sides of your vehicle. Allow other vehicles to also pull over. Pull to the right and gradually come to a stop.
Wait for the emergency vehicle to pass and watch for other emergency vehicles that may be responding to the same call. Check to make sure the way is clear and signal before merging back into traffic.
Don’t drive on or block the shoulder on freeways. Emergency vehicles will use the shoulder of the road if all lanes are blocked.