Here's what to do when flashing lights approach

Published March 16, 2003|Updated Aug. 31, 2005

A reader who identified herself only as Linda asked us about the proper procedure for yielding the right-of-way to an emergency vehicle when it is approaching from the rear on a busy road, such as an interstate. Linda was coming across the Howard Frankland Bridge from Tampa to St. Petersburg, and an ambulance came up fast behind her.

She moved to the right, but so did the car in front of her, and that car came to a dead stop. We were pretty sure that stopping was the wrong move. We would have suggested that the correct move was to pull over and give up the lane and, perhaps, slow down.

But Maj. Ken Howes of the Florida Highway Patrol tells us there is a lot more to it.

"Each situation is going to be different," Howes said. "The bottom line is that a motorist should yield however is best without causing an accident. If the emergency vehicle is in another lane, take your foot off the accelerator, but definitely do not stop. If the emergency vehicle is in your lane and you can move over safely, do it."

But often, Howes added, the best course is to stay where you are.

"The driver of the emergency vehicle is trained to look for a way around you," he said. "Often, the best decision is to stay where you are and let the driver do his job. For example, if you move over into the emergency lane and stop, and the driver decides that the best way around traffic is the emergency lane, you've set up for an accident."

Weather, traffic conditions and the size of the road all come into play in these situations.

"If you are at a city intersection and you're stopped for a light, then it really is best to stay put," Howes said. "The driver of the emergency vehicle knows all sorts of ways to get around you. It might be over a curb, or even in lanes going the opposite direction. Don't do anything that might cause an accident."

Now you know.

The city of St. Petersburg is sprucing up its downtown trees. Well, sprucing isn't the right word because they're not spruce trees. Whatever they are, they're getting face lifts all over the place.

Last week, it was the trees along Beach Drive. This week the schedule is as follows:

On Monday, work will be done on the west side of Beach Drive from Fifth Avenue N to Central Avenue.

Tuesday, look for tree trimming on the east side of First, Second, Third and Fourth streets from First Avenue N to First Avenue S.

On Wednesday, it will be the west side of First, Second Third and Fourth streets from First Avenue N to First Avenue S.

On Thursday, watch out on the east side of Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth streets from Frist Avenue N to First Avenue S.

And on Friday, work will be done on the west side of Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth streets from First Avenue N to First Avenue S.

We mention this, not because we've become a landscaping column but because the trimming will cause some sidewalk blockages and some parking restrictions.

As if we didn't already have enough parking restrictions.

John Christy Clement of Tierra Verde brought an interesting signage question to our attention. It is confusing, and it needs an explanation, and we're here to bring it to you.

John notes that when you exit northbound Interstate 275 at 26th Avenue S, you encounter along the ramp a sign that says Gulfport is two miles to the right, or to the east, which of course is nonsense. Everybody knows Gulfport is to the west.

The problem is, if you try to get to Gulfport by turning left, or west, on 26th Avenue S., you'll find that it doesn't go through.

Which gets us right to the explanation for the sign.

It directs motorists to turn right onto 26th Avenue. Other signs then direct them to make a left on 31st Street, northbound. Four blocks farther, and they are instructed to turn left onto 22nd Avenue S, which is the main route to Gulfport.

Since there is no 22nd Avenue S exit off of the northbound interstate, the roadies route you there on surface roads. It's really not difficult, except for crossing all those lanes to make the left onto 31st Street.

That could get to be one big hairy mess in heavy traffic, so be careful.

Could a route through St. Petersburg's downtown get any busier than the transition across Fifth Avenue N from northbound Third Street to northbound Fourth Street?

Could a section of road be in any worse shape?

From the last block of Third Street and across Fifth Avenue, washboard would be far too mild a term to describe the state of the pavement.

Can no one help get this fixed?

This is most definitely the Eyeball Jiggler of the Week.

Good News of the Week:

You folks in Seminole have finally gotten the traffic signal you so desperately needed at the Park Boulevard entrance to Home Depot, just east of Seminole Boulevard.


And more Good News of the Week:

The state roadies, bless their pea-pickin' little hearts, heard our cries of anguish last week and have fixed those nasty holes in the ramp along the George Bean Parkway exiting Tampa International Airport for southbound I- 275.

While we don't normally go to Tampa for Eyeball Jigglers, this one qualified because it affected only those folks headed from the airport to Pinellas County, which is us. And the potholes were really bad and really deep and darned near impossible to avoid.

The roadies told us early last week last week that a work order had been issued, and wonder of wonders, they told me Thursday that the work was done.


_ Dr. Delay can be reached by e-mail at, by fax at (727) 893-8675 or by snail mail at 490 First Ave., S, St. Petersburg 33701.