Seeing flashing lights approach you as you’re driving can be stressful. Some drivers panic and don’t effectively move out of the way, causing delays for emergency vehicles. The acronym “L.I.G.H.T.” will help you calmly and safely clear the way with five simple steps.
Look around. Once you notice flashing lights, use your mirrors to assess the situation around you. Are there cars stopping ahead of you or following close behind? Do you have room to safely pull over? It’s important to look before reacting suddenly so you don’t cause an accident.
Indicate that you're pulling over. Use your turn signal to tell those around you that you are slowing down and pulling over. Others may not yet have noticed the emergency vehicle, so communicate your intentions clearly to the drivers around you.
Go to the curb. In most circumstances, you’ll want to move as close to the right-hand curb as possible. If you’re on a highway or one-way road, move to the closest curb or edge. Do not block off ramps, intersections or the shoulder as the emergency vehicle may need to use them. If you’re currently in an intersection making a turn, abandon your turn and go straight through the intersection, pulling over to the side once you’re through.
Hang out until the emergency vehicle(s) have passed. Once you’ve pulled over, look to see if any other emergency vehicles are approaching and remain stopped until all have passed.
Turn back into your lane. After the vehicles have passed, you can merge back into traffic and continue with a safe following distance. It is illegal to follow within 150 metres of a firefighting vehicle responding to an alarm.1
Emergency vehicle flashing lights are not the only lights you’ll see while driving. If you see the amber flashing lights of a tow truck or lights of other emergency vehicles that are pulled over and you’re passing in the same direction, you must clear the lane if safe to do so, or slow down below the posted speed limit if you cannot move over. Failure to do so can result in 3 demerit points and fines up to $2,000 for the first offence.2
You might also encounter the flashing lights of a school bus. Whether you are approaching a school bus from behind or the front, you must stop if the overhead signal lights flash and the stop sign is out, unless there is a median between you and the bus. Remain stopped until the bus moves or the signal lights stop flashing.3
If you get into a car accident or are penalized for not following the rules of the road, it can impact your car insurance rates. Call your OTIP broker today at 1-800-267-6847 if you have questions about how an infraction or accident can impact your policy. If you’d like to get a quote for car insurance, call 1-866-561-5559.
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1. MTO Drivers Handbook
2. MTO Website
3. MTO Drivers Handbook