New York law requires that drivers use ‘due care’ when passing emergency vehicles parked by the side of the road. The law of course protects police cars and ambulances (and their occupants), but many other vehicles are considered emergency vehicles, including ‘blood delivery vehicles’ and ‘ordnance disposal vehicles of the armed forces of the United States’. And new categories are added from time to time. The most recent change, as the Albany Times Union has reported, came when the private conveyances of volunteer firefighters and ambulance crews were added to the list.
What does ‘due care’ involve? Well, the measure, found in Section 1144-a of the Vehicle and Traffic Law, is informally known as the ‘move over’ law. It’s called that because, when driving on a four-lane highway, “due care shall include, but not be limited to, moving from a lane which contains or is immediately adjacent to the shoulder[.]”
Due care as defined this way can place you, as a driver, on the horns of an unpleasant – and potentially dangerous – dilemma. For instance, 1144-a requires you to move over, but only allows you to move over when “such movement otherwise complies with the requirements of this chapter including, but not limited to, the provisions of section[ ] . . . . eleven hundred twenty-eight of this title.” Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1128(a), in turn, only authorizes a change of lanes when “the driver has first ascertained that such movement can be made with safety.”