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Emergency Vehicles & Power Outages

Emergency Vehicles

The Irvine Police Traffic Bureau receives numerous questions regarding the safe operation of vehicles in the City of Irvine. Several people have asked questions such as, "what should I do when an emergency vehicle approaches?" or "what should I do in the event a signal is blacked out or inoperative?"

The California Vehicle Code § 21806 states, "Upon the immediate approach of an authorized emergency vehicle which is sounding a siren and which has at least one lighted lamp exhibiting a red light that is visible, under normal atmospheric conditions, from a distance of 1,000 feet to front of the vehicle, the surrounding traffic shall, except as otherwise directed by a Traffic Officer, do the following:

  • (a)(1) Except as required under paragraph (2), the driver of every other vehicle shall yield the right-of-way and shall immediately drive to the right-hand edge or curb of the highway, clear of any intersection, and thereupon shall stop and remain stopped until the authorized emergency vehicle has passed..
  • (2) A person driving a vehicle in an exclusive or preferential use lane shall exit that lane immediately upon determining that the exit can be accomplished with reasonable safety.
  •  (b) The Operator of every street car shall immediately stop the street car, clear of any intersection, and remain stopped until the authorized emergency vehicle has passed.
  • (c) All pedestrians upon the highway shall proceed to the nearest curb or place of safety and remain there until the authorized emergency vehicle has passed.

It is clearly stated in California Vehicle Code § 21806(a)(1) that all vehicles need to safely move to the right side of the roadway upon the approach of police, fire or ambulance vehicles, which have a siren, and is exhibiting a red light. Therefore, vehicles should not stop in the number one lane or in the middle of the road. Clearing the roadway for emergency vehicles in a timely manner will enable safety equipment to be where they are in needed a lot quicker.

Power Outages

Power outages can occur at anytime. When a power outage takes place, several “blacked out” or inoperative intersections can occur. California Vehicle Code § 21800(d)(1) states, "The driver of any vehicle approaching an intersection which has official traffic control signals that are inoperative shall stop at the intersection, and may proceed with caution when it is safe to do so."

These black outs or inoperative intersections are very dangerous due to the fact that not all people see the blacked out intersection and do not stop. After stopping at these intersections, please proceed with caution.

Prepared by Officer M. Mahoney