Officials remind drivers to yield to emergency vehicles

Local News

As police investigate a crash in Bedford County that caused a fire truck to run off the road, officials are reminding drivers to yield to emergency vehicles.

According to authorities, Moneta volunteer firefighters were responding to a crash near Headens Bridge Road and Rock Cliff Road Sunday. A pickup truck, which was possibly involved in that crash, did not yield the right of way to the fire truck, forcing the fire truck to drive off the road and almost down an eight foot embankment to avoid hitting the pickup.

As the first people to arrive on the scene of an emergency, first responders have to get there safely.

“I don’t think that they purposefully don’t yield to us,” said Nick Rice, a firefighter in Bedford and Roanoke. “I think it’s more or less an accidental kind of thing.”

Virginia law requires drivers to yield to emergency response vehicles with flashing lights and/or sirens on. Authorities say it’s typically best to pull over to the right and stop to let emergency vehicles pass.

But Rice said he has seen some drivers who do not follow the law.

“Someone could seriously be injured or in a very life-threatening situation, and it adds time to us getting there, which delays patient care,” he said.

There are several ways you can help first responders on the roads, Rice said. He suggests drivers check their side and rear view mirrors regularly and avoid distractions. 

“Many of them are just not paying attention to what’s going on around them,” said Jeff Pauley, battalion chief for the Bedford County Department of Fire and Rescue.

Drivers not yielding to emergency vehicles could cause a crash like the one on Sunday and possibly a devastating ripple effect.

“Let’s say these guys were going to a structure fire instead of a car wreck,” Pauley said. “And they’re the first truck that would normally be there, well now you’ve eliminated that. So how far away is the next truck?”

The firefighters involved in this past weekend’s crash are ok, Pauley said.

Officials are still working to determine how much damage was done to the fire truck, Pauley said. If it needs to be replaced, it could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and taxpayers may have to pay for it, he added.

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