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Massachusetts Emergency Vehicle Law

When an emergency vehicle drives past with sirens blaring, most drivers know that the vehicle is responding to some kind of emergency and that drivers need to get out of the vehicle’s way. Massachusetts law clearly defines how drivers are supposed to respond to the presence of an emergency vehicle, and there are consequences for failing to obey the laws. Failure to obey the law can also be used against a driver who injures another in a motor vehicle accident.

Massachusetts Laws

Massachusetts law gives fire trucks responding to an alarm, police patrols and ambulances transporting the sick the right-of-way through “any street, way, lane or alley.” If a driver willfully blocks the way of one of these emergency vehicles, the driver could receive a fine of fifty dollars and a possible jail sentence of up to three months for the first violation. A second or subsequent offense could result in a fine of up to $500 or up to a year in prison. After a third offense, the court or registry of motor vehicles has the authority to suspend the driver’s license or order the driver to driver’s education classes in addition to any fines or jail sentences.

The law further articulates that drivers must pull over as far as possible to the right side curb at the approach of an emergency vehicle and stop. Drivers must remain stopped until the emergency vehicle passes. Drivers are not allowed to drive within 300 feet of an emergency vehicle with its emergency systems in operation.

Drivers may also not park within 800 feet of a fire, within fire lanes the fire department has designated or on any road leading to an active fire that obstructs the way of emergency responders. Police have the authority to tow cars violating these laws. Additionally, the driver will receive a $100 fine for violation of the law.

Negligence and Violations of Statutes

If a person violates one of these emergency vehicle statutes and is involved in a car accident where another person is injured, the injured person may be able to use the violation of the statute to help prove that the driver was negligent. Violation of a safety statute may be considered negligence per se, or proof of negligence, for all of the consequences that the law was intended to prevent. A person who is injured must show both that the driver violated the statute and the violation of the statute was the cause of his or her injuries.

Emergency vehicles’ sirens are intended to alert others of the potential for danger. Massachusetts drivers need to know to get out of the paths of emergency vehicles so they do not cause further emergencies.