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.