MAILBAG: Do I stop for ambulances on U.S. 31?

Bruce of Spring Lake Township asked if you have to pull over to the shoulder when an ambulance is approaching from the rear on limited access highways like U.S. 31 between Grand Haven and Muskegon.
Mark Brooky
Oct 3, 2012


rom the rear. This can't be proper procedure. Pulling back into traffic causes all kind of swerving and braking and near misses. Could you please inform readers of the proper action to take?"


Bruce, the seemingly timeless "What Every Driver Must Know" booklet from the Michigan Secretary of State has our answer.

We must yield the right of way to an emergency vehicle that is approaching from any direction — that's both coming from behind or coming at us. Motorists also must yield to an emergency vehicle that has stopped when it is displaying flashing warning lights, sounding a siren or other audible warning, or both.

Here's the state law:

"When an emergency vehicle is approaching, pull over to the edge of the roadway, clear of intersections, and stop. Remain there until the emergency vehicle has passed. Watch for others; there may be several other emergency vehicles. Keep a foot on the brake so the brake lights let emergency vehicle drivers know you have stopped. Stay at least 500 feet behind any moving emergency vehicle displaying flashing warning lights and sounding a siren. Never pass a moving emergency vehicle displaying flashing warning lights unless directed to do so by the emergency vehicle driver or a law enforcement officer."

By the way, an authorized emergency vehicle includes ambulances, fire trucks and police cars, and a lot of other vehicles including tow trucks with flashing or rotating lights clearly marked.

What if you don't stop? Failure to yield or exercise due caution when passing a stopped emergency vehicle is a civil infraction.

And when you see an emergency vehicle stopped along the road, overhead lights on or not, slow down and move over a lane if possible. Just make sure someone else isn't in the other lane before your move over. If traffic or other conditions prevent you from changing lanes, you must slow down and proceed with due caution.

Do you have a question for the Tribune? E-mail it to, and type MAILBAG in the subject line. Or mail it the old-fashioned way to: Grand Haven Tribune, MAILBAG, 101 N. Third St., Grand Haven, MI 49417. We'll do our best to get you an answer! A new Mailbag appears on at 5 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.


Tri-cities realist

However I'm pretty sure that on a divided highway (like north of van wagoner on 31) you do not need to yield to emergency vehicles approaching from the opposite direction. Or has this law changed? I didn't see anything about this in the excerpt from WEDMK.


That was a tragedy. An awful one.

Tri-cities realist

What was a tragedy? Did I miss something?


Post a Comment

Log in to your account to post comments here and on other stories, galleries and polls. Share your thoughts and reply to comments posted by others. Don't have an account on Create a new account today to get started.