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12 June, 2009

Pull over when you see the flashing lights... um, why?

One thing that we learn when we are very young is that when you see the flashing lights of an ambulance, or fire engine, or police car, you must pull over to the side of the road and allow them to pass. And I understand the rationale for this rule. The reason is so that the emergency vehicle can get to its destination without obstruction.

Of course.

What I do not understand is when people are driving down a 12 lane highway, and there's a police car headed in the opposite direction, and there's water between the two directions of traffic, and people are still pulling over to the side of the road? Okay, I exaggerate a little bit. But seriously. I think that the spirit of this law has been lost, and what we now have is just insane panic frenzy of people swerving off the road, when the emergency vehicle is 80 meters away. This helps no one. It creates traffic, and it also creates risk for additional accidents.

Personally, if I am driving down the road, and I see a police car headed in the opposite direction with its lights on, and there are no other cars, I do NOTHING. I continue about my business. It is not like these emergency vehicles are made out of ferrous materials, and will magnetically pull all objects into their path if you do not veer away from them.

What really bothers me is that I feel like people pull off the road partly out of habit, but also because of some strange and asinine deference to "the law" which is not only unnecessary, but undeserved. It's like, "I will pull over out of honor and respect for this misfit asshole who probably beat people up when he was in high-school, and now is allowed to speed, carry a gun, and wear a cheesy polyester 'uniform' to his heart's content."

It's bad enough that the police often abuse their sirens and lights just so they can run red lights at a traffic-filled intersection. And it's also bad enough that whenever the police are "on a call" they seem to feel it's just fine to block traffic, needlessly, by stopping in the middle of the road, in the wrong direction, diagonally, or blocking on-ramps to highways. It's all about power. And it's all about the very notion that the law is, ironically, above the law.

So I draw the line at what is reasonable and necessary. I will make every effort to never obstruct an emergency vehicle from carrying out its duty. It would be nice, however, if some of these emergency vehicles would make a modicum of effort not to needlessly obstruct me from carrying out my duties.

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