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National Traffic Incident Response Week: Should Drivers Move Right or Left?

The whole purpose of National Traffic Incident Response Week is to remind travelers to do their part whenever they roll up on a collision or see flashing lights in their rearview mirror – it means you should clear the way for first responders!


But which way?

Existing laws can be confusing, so we’ll do our best to explain.


The Seattle Fire Department reminds drivers to move RIGHT for lights and sirens. When you see first responders approaching your vehicle from any direction, that’s when the law requires you to move to the right, if you can. It’s the law (Revised Code of Washington RCW 46.61.210, to be exact).


But there’s another law (Seattle Municipal Code SMC 11.58.272) that Seattle Police want to highlight that says when drivers are approaching an incident they should move LEFT for first responders working to clear a crash.

Confusing? We know it!

Here’s another way to look at it:

When FIRST RESPONDERS are approaching you with flashing lights and sirens: move RIGHT to let them by.

When YOU are approaching first responders clearing an incident: move LEFT and give them space.

Got it? Great!

Being safe on our roadways and watching out for the safety of our first responders helps us all move closer to Seattle’s Vision Zero goal to end traffic deaths and serious injuries on city streets by 2030. Now, be safe out there – no matter which way you’re going!