HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- With so many distractions behind the wheel, emergency responders say people seem to be doing everything they can while trying to drive.
But what's even more startling is what drivers are not doing-- yielding to emergency vehicles-- even though it's the law.
There's a lot that can prevent you from knowing when an emergency vehicle is approaching. There's the radio, there's your phone, and vehicle manufacturers are even making more of our cars soundproof. But these aren't excuses not to yield.
State trooper Curtis Summerville says your reaction could truly be the difference between life or death for someone.
"Those minutes are critical," he said.
Consider if someone you knew was in trouble.
"I'm sure you would want us to get there in a timely manner, so take that into consideration when you see an emergency vehicle," Summerville noted.
Too often, drivers simply don't pull over. And they don't stop-- even when lights and sirens are blaring.
When an emergency vehicle is coming from behind you, the law says move to the far right side of the road, slow down, and if not on a major highway, stop till the vehicle passes.
"Not in the middle, not on the left side, go to the right side," Summerville said. We'll often wait till there's space or room enough for you to get to the right."
And this is more than just a courtesy to law enforcement-- it's the law.
"Don't break any laws also, we don't want you to speed just to accommodate us," he said.
The next time you see flashing lights coming your way, stay calm and think it through. Failing to yield to an emergency vehicle can cost more than time and safety, it can also cost you a lot of money. A citation for failing to yield costs over $200 in Madison County.