One weekday drive, I’ve witnessed one of the biggest idiocies in Philippine motoring: emergency vehicles.
This isn’t because of some instances that these vehicles have violated laws themselves; this isn’t even about that certain firetruck in Pateros that incurred massive damages and casualties during a non-emergency plight.
It’s because we Filipinos don’t know how to react to a vehicle rushing to an emergency.
Before you scoff at the idea and tell me that most of these marked vehicles aren’t really utilized to their purposes, let me tell you that I agree.
I, too, have several encounters with emergency vehicles being used for personal purposes. Heck, I once even saw a non-tinted ambulance filled with groceries (I presume because of the familiar yellow plastic bag) and healthy individuals sitting in an upright position – complete with sirens and lights on, weaving through traffic precariously.
But those hideous instances don’t necessarily mean that all emergency vehicles are guilty. In this case, the sin of some isn’t the sin of all – and more importantly, they can be literally life-and-death situations. Besides, stipulated under Republic Act No. 4136, you should always yield to police and any other marked emergency vehicles.
So what do you when you see a rushing ambulance in your rearview? Simple – find a way to let it pass. Since we’re in a left-hand drive country, move to the right side (if possible) and let it pass on your left. If it’s trying to enter your lane, let it do so. In some cases, you might need to halt completely.
On the highway, always check if there’s an incoming emergency vehicle before you enter the overtaking lanes. If there’s one let them pass first despite having a clearance presenting itself in front of you. They always have the right of way.
When you see a stationary emergency vehicle in service, use your visual signals, yield, and try to pass it at a safe distance, as slowly as you can.
And more importantly, don’t ever tail these emergency vehicles, or worse, try to race them – even if your car can. Those are sins worthy of a place at the third ring of hell.
Of course, do these things as cautiously as possible. They also apply to all emergency vehicles not limited to ambulances or police cars. And as this article is pointing out, it’s not your duty anymore to investigate if the marked vehicle is really being used for an emergency. If it is, then good. If it’s not, you don’t get extra ligtas points for not letting them through. Charge it to conscience.
It’s a different story for emergency vehicles without their lights and sirens on. But as always, stay alert and vigilant whenever you see one on the road. There are reasons these vehicles are marked with massive labels.