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The Requirements of Title 75 Pa.C.S. § 3325; "Duty of driver on approach of emergency vehicle"

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Pursuant to 75 Pa.C.S. Section 3325 (PA Motor Vehicle Code), ALL drivers must pull over and stop

image of ambulance - type 2 ambulance van isolated on white background - JPG

By Attorney Elisabeth K.H. Pasqualini, Traffic Ticket Attorney, Harrisburg, PA

In a recent Superior Court decision, the Court held that ALL drivers have a duty to stop and pull to the curb when an approaching emergency vehicle is in the vicinity.  Commonwealth v. Busser, 2012 WL 4950760 (Superior Court of Pennsylvania) Argued June 6, 2012. Filed Oct. 18, 2012.  This includes vehicles that are on the opposite side of the roadway from an emergency vehicle, even when there is a clear lane of travel for the emergency vehicle.

The Court stated as follows:

Section 3325(a) of the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code provides, in relevant part, as follows: "Upon the immediate approach of an emergency vehicle making use of an audible signal and visual signals [ ... ] the driver of every other vehicle shall yield the right-of-way and shall immediately drive to a position parallel to, and as close as possible to, the right-hand [ ... ] curb [ ... ] and stop[.]" 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 3325(a) (emphasis added). In this case, Busser did not pull his vehicle over to the curb as an ambulance with its siren on approached from the opposite direction on the same road. The road is two lanes wide in both directions, and the ambulance had an open lane in which to continue unimpeded to its destination whether or not Busser pulled over. The trial court found that § 3325(a) does not require a motorist to pull over and stop at the curb when an ambulance approaching from the opposite direction has an open traffic lane on its own side of the road.

The Superior Court overturned the decision of the trial court and ruled that the statute requires ALL drivers to pull over to the curb.  The Court, in doing so, stated that "because of the use of the conjunctive "and," § 3325(a) imposes three requirements on motorists in the event of an approaching emergency vehicle: (1) yield the right-of-way, and (2) pull to the curb, and (3) stop.

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