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Move over! Firefighters say drivers aren’t following the rules of the road

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Santa Maria firefighters respond to an emergency call. (KSBY photo) Santa Maria firefighters respond to an emergency call. (KSBY photo)

City of Santa Maria firefighters work in the busiest city fire department in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, and when they're sent out on calls, fire officials say they're being slowed down by other drivers.

Firefighters are urging people to pull over when their emergency lights are activated. Police say you're breaking the law if you don't.

Santa Maria firefighters respond to more than 9,000 emergency calls a year. Driving down Santa Maria streets, you can often see or hear their engines roaring up the street. 

"The majority of our calls are medical, which are life-threatening, so we're going Code 3 to get to the scene quickly," said Engineer James Bettencourt, Santa Maria Fire Department.
 
When sirens and lights are blaring, drivers should quickly and safely pull to the right side of the road and stop driving; however, firefighters say that's not what they see happening.
 
"Cars not pulling over to the right or cars seeing us but staying in front of us because they want to hit all the green lights and cars stopping in the middle of the lane and that slows us down," Bettencourt said. 

And when some cars just stop altogether, "I'll have to either go in opposing traffic, which is a dangerous move, but we have sometimes needed to do it in order to keep going down the street, or I have to stop and actually wait for that person to pull over to the right," Bettencourt said. 

Again, firefighters remind you to safely pull over to the right, and if you are stopped in a left-hand turn lane, stay put; don't cross in front of a fire engine. 

Police also remind you that it is law and you could be ticketed for not pulling over for emergency vehicles.
 
 

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