EVOC Part 4 of 5: Clearing the Intersection Advanced Skills

Part 4 of a 5 part series giving helpful insights into intersection negotiation for emergency responders. 

Common Mistakes

Intersection negotiation is a complex procedure that includes a number of moving parts. This complexity often results in mistakes being made. Typically it is not at the fault of the emergency vehicle driver, but rather due to the failure of the driver to prepare themself fully for the mistakes of civilians. 

Mistake #1 All Lanes Blocked

Police car approaching intersection

The scenario displayed above is a difficult situation for an emergency vehicle driver. The lanes are all blocked and the light is red. The mistake that often occurs in this situation takes place when the emergency vehicle driver attempts to pass through the intersection on the right of the civilian driven vehicles. This can be a dangerous action for everyone involved, and it is also illegal for any vehicle to drive on the sidewalk. In order to safely negotiate through the intersection shown in the above scenario use the following steps.

  • Pull up behind the vehicles blocking the lanes (leave ample space)
  • Turn off emergency lights and sirens to avoid confusion for other drivers
  • Follow traffic through the intersection when the light turns green



Mistake #2 Leaving Ample Space

Police car approaching intersection

In all situations that involve negotiating an intersection, spacing is important for safety and effectiveness. As shown in the image above, a recommended space of around 20 feet is necessary. Failure to keep adequate space can leave an emergency vehicle trapped in traffic, unable to perform necessary maneuvers.

Mistake #3 Failure To Clear Right Lanes

Police car leaving intersection

A mistake that is frequently made by emergency drivers is neglecting to effectively clear the right side of an intersection. Too much focus is put on clearing the left lanes, which leads to a driver accelerating too early before the right lanes have been cleared. It is important to clear the intersection lane by lane. This may seem like an over-the-top method, but it is necessary for the safety of all drivers in the intersection.

These are some of the more advanced skills behind clearing an intersection. Look for next weeks post which will cover intersection departure.