Please Don't Ignore the Ambulance Behind You

Ambulance NYC.jpg

I have a feeling I might have written about this bizarre subject before, but it just happened again today so I am now truly curious. When you are driving and you see an ambulance behind you with its lights and siren on, what do you do? Do you attempt to move out of the ambulance's way, or do you just ignore it and keep driving as if it isn't there?

When I learned to drive, I was taught to move over to the right lane if I was on a road with more than one lane in the same direction (so the ambulance could easily pass in the left lane) and to pull off onto the shoulder and stop if it there was only one lane. I'm wondering now if there might be some major regional differences in terms of what one is suppose to do in this situation. You see, since moving to Mississippi more than a decade ago, I have seen people refuse to move out of the way of ambulances more times than I can count.

It happened again this morning. I was in the right lane on a road with three lanes traveling in each direction. The ambulance came up fast in the left lane. Multiple drivers in front of the ambulance in the left lane refused to get out of the way. Traffic was not bad, and they had plenty of room to move into the lane to their right. Instead, they stayed in the left lane as we approached an intersection. The ambulance had to leave the road and drive on the median in order to pass through the intersection and get around the vehicles in the left lane who refused to move over. Much like all the previous times I have seen this happen, it was clear that having to execute this maneuver slowed the ambulance considerably.

Is this a regional thing? Are individuals who learn to drive in Mississippi taught something very different about what to do in the event that an ambulance comes up behind them with its lights and siren on? Are they taught that they should just ignore it? As difficult as it is for me to believe that anyone would be taught this, I'm not sure how else to explain something I have seen happen so many times.

Every time I have seen this happen, I have wondered whether the drivers of the vehicles who refuse to move over care at all whether the ambulance arrives at its destination before it is too late. Based on the surveys, the vast majority of these drivers are almost certainly Christians. And not only are they Christians, but they are Christians who insist that their religion is extremely important to them. Aren't they supposed to be at least somewhat concerned about the welfare of other people? How might they feel if they had called the ambulance for a loved one and it did not arrive quickly enough because some jackass had refused to get out of its way?

Given the many appalling moments the 2016 presidential campaign has brought us, much has been said about what seems to be a growing lack of civility. I'm starting to wonder if selfishness and a lack of compassion for others might be a far more important part of this than any lewd language. And so, I have to ask, "Have we reached the point where we we are no longer willing to face the minor inconvenience of missing a left turn in order to save a life?"