Is it legal to pass an emergency vehicle with its lights on?

Trooper Steve says not so fast

ORLANDO, Fla. – News 6 traffic safety expert Trooper Steve Montiero answers viewer questions about the rules of the road every week, helping Orlando-area residents become better drivers by being better educated.

Haley, of Eustis, asked, “Can I pass an extremely slow-moving emergency vehicle that has this lights on?”

Talk about a loaded question with an equally loaded answer. Now, there is no Florida law that specifically identifies a slow-moving emergency vehicle, but there is a safe way to go about this. A key thing to remember is an emergency vehicle with its lights activated has the right of way, whether it's moving slow or fast. Being aware of your surroundings will allow you to keep your distance from that vehicle. 

Sometimes, that emergency vehicle might be just initially entering traffic and needs to speed up or slow down for an unknown reason. Who knows? There might be a situation in the back of the ambulance you might not be aware of. Keeping focus and knowing simply to stay away is always a great practice. 

I saw this once on Northbound Interstate 75 toward Gainesville. The ambulance was in the left lane traveling well below the speed limit. Traffic kept its distance, keeping an extra travel lane open as a buffer and proceeding very carefully.

Look, this is a rare occurrence and not seen often, but when it does happen, the one thing to remember there is obviously something happening where someone is either being transported in or in need of that emergency vehicle. Stay focused and never assume you know what that ambulance or an emergency vehicle is going to do. 

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