Kudos go to Orem city for wanting to add a special transmitter on its emergency vehicle light-bars that will improve safety at intersections when emergency vehicles approach.
In Tuesday's Utah County Section, staff writer Sharon Haddock reported that the city would like to use the Opticom system on all its emergency vehicles. Opticom, developed by 3M Corp., gives the right-of-way to emergency vehicles by a white strobe-type light emitter that tells the signal lights at upcoming intersections to hold or clear traffic when needed.This is a bit of good news for what is typically a tense situation.
Last week while waiting for my husband to get me from work, I watched as cars, trucks and motorcycles rushed to and fro along University Avenue. That street is ugly around 5 p.m. Very few people signaled, several played leap-frog hoping to get a jump on their commute, and beating the red light seemed to be the latest sport.
The only thing that could add to the mayhem would be an emergency vehicle. Sure enough, as soon as I thought it, the sirens came within earshot. I looked south and a few blocks away was an ambulance weaving in and out of traffic.
I give credit to those emergency drivers and the hair-raising experience it must be to get to an emergency going code 3 (lights and sirens) on Utah roads.
Everyone who has ever taken a driver education course or a driver's test has been taught that when an emergency vehicle is approaching, you pull over to the right as quickly as you can. If you are in the left lane in heavy traffic, wait until you can safely turn into a right lane. Emergency vehicles will always pass on the left, even if they have to drive on a median to do it.
Well, as I continued to watch the ambulance and subsequent fire truck proceed down University, my frustration grew and grew. One particular driver, who by the way was blaring the bass on his car stereo louder than cannon fire, kept blocking the ambulance's way.
Don't people check their rearview or side mirrors these days? Don't they understand that a siren and lights generally mean an emergency and get the heck over?
Obviously they don't, because more than one vehicle impeded the ambulance's and fire truck's progress, even after they honked their horns.
Now I'm really mad. It brings back the time when I rode with now retired Orem police officer Fran Fillmore in his police car. We were called to the scene of an accident - code 3. I counted more than 20 vehicles that for one reason or another impeded our progress, and we had to come to a complete stop at an intersection while several cars continued through the light.
It's a wonder we don't have more people getting killed.
Thanks again to Orem city, which by virtue of the proposed upgrade may help some of us learn how to treat approaching emergency vehicles. Who knows, the next time they go code 3, it may be to save your life.