Should I stop on roundabout for an ambulance?

| 21/03/2019
Ask Auntie, CNS Local Life, Caymanian status

According to the Road Code of the Cayman Islands, 2012, Section 3.11.5 , no vehicle at all is permitted to stop on a roundabout for any reason. If that statement is indeed true and the law, what does it say about stopping to let emergency vehicles through? I once had to suddenly stop on a roundabout to let a speeding ambulance through; had I not stopped on the roundabout by following the road code, the speeding ambulance would have either plowed straight into the side of my vehicle or swerved to avoid and probably rolled over, and there would have been an accident.

So can you elaborate further? Does this particular road code section need to be amended for emergency vehicles?

Auntie’s answer: Yes, you are certainly right about the Road Code telling drivers not to stop or give way on a roundabout. But before I get into the details of your question, I cannot help but wonder why you were unable to stop before you entered the roundabout.

I am assuming the ambulance had its siren on so it seems there would have been ample warning that the emergency vehicle was headed your way and going to enter the roundabout. I do not know if it was night or day therefore I will not make any assumptions about visibility. Perhaps there was something else going on.

Either way, I asked the RCIPS to weigh in. First of all, a spokesperson explained, under Section 59 of The Traffic Law, 2011, emergency vehicles and some specialised vehicles, such as school buses, may be exempted by the Governor in Cabinet for non-compliance with regulations for road use in special circumstances, for example for an emergency call.

In addition, Section 68(m) says a driver shall “give right of way to emergency vehicles and other vehicles used by officials” as prescribed in the law.

“The driver had a duty of care to have been paying attention on the roadway and looking out for such emergency vehicles. The proper thing to have been done was to wait at the roundabout’s junction until the emergency vehicle had passed before proceeding,” the spokesperson said.

In general, drivers should pull over and stop as soon as it is safe to do so. “If an ambulance or fire truck (both pretty large and bright vehicles) are coming with lights and sirens, no one should say that they did not see those vehicles coming,” the spokesperson said, adding that if anyone did not see or hear an emergency vehicle, they should assess whether they were checking their mirrors, the music in the car was not too loud, they were driving carefully and there were no distractions such as from passengers or a phone.

“The truth is, there should be no reason why someone should be on the roundabout the same time as an ambulance,” the spokesperson noted, adding that the driver should have seen the ambulance approaching and stopped to let that vehicle pass instead of winding up in a potentially dangerous situation for the occupants of the ambulance, the driver of the car and other vehicles on the road.

With all that said, the spokesperson addressed your specific question about roundabouts and ambulances: “The driver should not have been in that position but if you find yourself in that (situation) then, yes, if it is safe to stop, then stop right away and let them pass. They are trying to save a life and deserve the respect of road users for that job.”

The law mentioned above can be found on the CNS Library

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Comments (8)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    At minimum, all Fire/Police/EMS vehicles should have a siren-activated hi-def windscreen cam that records the full duration of their high-speed response on a SSD, including reading plates of all uncooperative and/or inattentive drivers. Those logs should be reviewed nightly and those flagged vehicles that failed to yield should be fined severely (per traffic law). This effort would be self-funding. The traffic unit should concurrently blitz the ticketing and roadside removal of all illegal plate covers, if for no other reason, than to assist in this emergency effort. It would be nice if there were zero tolerance on one thing, and for the sake of those waiting, hanging to life or at gunpoint, let it be this.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Not defending anyone here, but because of the omnidirectional sound waves from sirens and wailers, in many accoustically correct conditions it is hard to discern the direction the emergency vehicle is coming from. We must also consider that many modern vehicles are astonishingly sound proof.

    • Anonymous says:

      The number of dunces wearing headphones while driving doesn’t help.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I don’t disagree with anything said in the article, nor the pragmatic approach Cayman usually has for emergency vehicles, however, I thought I would share the UK;s position on emergency vehicles. That is you are not allowed to break traffic laws in trying to get out of the way of an emergency vehicle, this has led to emergency vehicles stuck behind cars a red traffic lights, who, legally aren’t allowed to move.

    • Anonymous says:

      You can move carefully and slowly through a Red Light in the UK, if it is to let an emergency vehicle through.

      Or you could 4 years ago when I did my test there

    • Anonymous says:

      Dithering self-righteous drivers are the worst impediment to EMS response. The presence of an EMS vehicle has priority over the temporary condition of any traffic lights and any normal road laws are suspended until that response is through. You must leave the road surface if necessary if it would assist in that response. Other jurisdictions not only fine strongly for this, but also assign demerit points against a driver’s license which flags you as a recurring hazard and (commensurately) increases your insurance by 25% for 3 years.

  4. Anonymous says:

    People stop on roundabouts everyday at rush hour preventing traffic entry onto the roundabout.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Obviously , failed driving test , or didn’t do one at all