Fun with emergency vehicles.

I had the very exciting experience tonight of very nearly getting hit by an ambulance running a red light.

What made it particularly exciting — as I generally pull over immediately for emergency vehicles — was that the ambulance had no lights nor sirens running. I literally didn’t see it at all until it was next to me, and I’m pretty sure they weren’t expecting me in the intersection, either.

I was riding in the righthand lane of a busy 6-lane thoroughfare, going about 40mph, directly behind a huge red Chevy pickup truck. I couldn’t see anything except Huge Red Chevy, which, of course, was my first mistake. Huge Red Chevy (HRC) was going obnoxiously slowly, but I stayed behind it since I had an upcoming righthand turn.

As we approached the intersection in question, HRC started slowing down despite our obviously green light. I remember being confused by this, but figured the driver was looking for a street sign or something. Just before the intersection, HRC moved one lane to our left, and, somewhat relieved, I accelerated into the intersection.

Suddenly, there’s a big white blocky thing turning left into me in my peripheral vision. The ambulance braked at the same time I swerved, and we avoided one another by no more than 10 feet.

My first thought was, of course, “….the fuck?” My second was “….lights?” I remember turning my head to look at the ambulance, to check, and I distinctly remember there being no emergency lights running. I know there were no sirens on, because I can hear sirens through my earplugs.

So, I’m assuming that the ambulance came up to the intersection, and only saw HRC, which obviously saw the ambulance; the latter must have therefore decided it didn’t need sirens or lights running (there were no other cars moving in my direction towards the ambulance). I’m positive the ambulance driver had no idea that there was a motorcyclist behind the pickup truck.

Moral: though it didn’t seem like it at the time, I was obviously following HRC too closely. I couldn’t see around it, and obviously, there was, in fact, something to see. Similarly, I was riding closely enough behind the pickup that an oncoming vehicle had no idea I was behind it.

Lesson learned.

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4 Responses to Fun with emergency vehicles.

  1. Linda says:

    :: wince :: A good reminder.

  2. Yosh says:

    Eek! I’m super paranoid of these kind of situations that I’ve gotten pretty good in my mind to stay far enough back from larger vehicles keeping more than a two sec minimum following distance.
    Also when approaching an intersection and am behind a larger vehicle tend to get over as far over to the left of my lane so that I can see the left turn lane for the oncoming vehicles and keep a close watch on the right hand intersection in case there is a car making a right onto the road in front of me. I also weave in my lane when approaching and coming to a stop at intersections.
    Another thing, I know my hi-beams are bright so I make the most of their visibility by doing the weave. I also bounce in my seat at a stop light. I may look goofy to everyone, but that’s the point, they see me!
    = )

  3. >Also when approaching an intersection and am behind a larger
    >vehicle tend to get over as far over to the left of my lane so
    >that I can see the left turn lane for the oncoming vehicles
    Good point! I’ve gotten used to/spoiled by my area’s tendency towards left-turn green arrows — you can’t turn left on a green light around here unless you specifically have a green left-turn arrow. I accidentally ran the lights a couple of times when I first moved here; I should be more conscious that other may do the same.
    >I also bounce in my seat at a stop light
    I do that when listening to my iPod…..*grins*

  4. wookiee says:

    Emergency vehicles are one of my biggest fears after a doctor friend told me about a motorcyclist that got hit by a firetruck running a red light, and came into the ER with his handlebars clear through his gut.

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