If a cop car, ambulance, fire truck, and postal truck meet, who goes first?

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Scarpozzi

Lifer
Jun 13, 2000
26,200
1,608
126
Usually, none of them would stop (except the mailman)....they just blow their horn really loud and end up colliding.
 

40Hands

Diamond Member
Jun 29, 2004
5,042
0
71
Police should go first because hes has better acceleration and if they are all going to the same place then you might want to have him there for security (or in case of any minorities in the area) I kid, I kid!

Then ambulance, followed by the fire truck then the mail truck.
 

Kelemvor

Lifer
May 23, 2002
16,930
7
81
This was just psoted like a month ago.

And here's from Snopes:

A couple of weeks after the "Street Smart" article, another astute Los Angeles Times reader provided his own answer:

I am glad that it was established that the mail truck would not even be in the running, but I am disappointed that it was not pointed out that Section 21806 of the California Vehicle Code makes that clear.

Section 21800 answers the question of which of the remaining three vehicles has the right of way. To make it short, the vehicle to the left of the mail truck has the right of way.

Since everybody has to yield to the vehicle on his right, whoever sees the mail truck on his right gets to go first.

Easy, huh?
 

BAMAVOO

Diamond Member
Oct 9, 1999
8,089
41
91
The mail truck always has the right of way. (Federal) Even if an Ambulance, firetruck or police car have their lights and sirens on, they are to stop at every Stop sign or stop light to make sure it is clear before they proceed through. If they run the red light even with their lights on and hit someone they will get sued!
 

Kelemvor

Lifer
May 23, 2002
16,930
7
81
Originally posted by: BAMAVOO
The mail truck always has the right of way. (Federal) Even if an Ambulance, firetruck or police car have their lights and sirens on, they are to stop at every Stop sign or stop light to make sure it is clear before they proceed through. If they run the red light even with their lights on and hit someone they will get sued!
Sorry. Go read the links people have posted. Mail Truck has NO authority over emergency vehicles...

http://www.snopes.com/autos/law/fourway.asp
 

Kelemvor

Lifer
May 23, 2002
16,930
7
81
Claim: A United States Postal Service mail truck has the right of way over emergency vehicles.

Status: False.

Example: [Montreal Gazette, 1998]


Here's a question for you. Although hypothetical, it could happen. If a firetruck, police car, postal truck and ambulance -- all with sirens blaring and lights flashing (except the mail truck, of course) -- arrived simultaneously at four corners of an intersection, who would have the right of way?

Who should be allowed to cross the intersection first?


Origins: Surprisingly, quite a few people will answer the above question by proclaiming that the mail truck has the right of way. How this belief came to be is a puzzler, although some respondents have at least made a stab at providing some plausible answers:

The answer to that old theoretical puzzler is the mail truck, by virtue of its federal government status.
That explanation makes a little sense in that we naturally expect federal authority may supersede state or local authority (even if the Postal Service's status as a "federal agency" isn't quite what it used to be), but a mail truck? Cars driven by FBI agents, Border Patrol automobiles, and Army vehicles (including tanks) also have "federal government status," but we're not aware of any laws giving them the right of way over all other vehicles, even in non-emergency situations.

[A] postal truck should have priority because maybe it was carrying a declaration of war that just had to be delivered while the emergency vehicles waited.
Ho ho ho. Imagine Franklin D. Roosevelt announcing to Congress, "I'm sure I dropped that declaration of war against Japan in the mail the day before yesterday. We'll just have to hold off beginning hostilities for a day or two until we can send out another copy. Tell the Navy they'll just have to sit tight for now."

He gave as an example the fact that if a fire truck, an ambulance carrying a patient and a police car in pursuit of a criminal meet a mail truck carrying mail at an intersection, the mail truck has the right of way.

"In the days when this was established," explained Mr. Sulzer, "communication was vital."
Well, maybe so, but putting out fires, catching criminals, and saving lives have traditionally been considered "vital" acitivies as well. It may be, though, that as Mr. Sulzer suggests, the mistaken belief about mail trucks is a carryover from the days of railroads:

"As you may know," he wrote, "the 'fast mail' trains were an important part of the operation of the railroads in their heyday.

"The mail contracts were an important source of income for the railroad and, indeed, one of the purposes for the government establishing railroads was communication through the mail.

"Generally speaking, the fast mail trains had right of way over all other traffic. That is, the track was cleared ahead of the mail. All other traffic went off on a switch track to let it by."
We posed this question to the Los Angeles Times' "Street Smart" column back in 1994, and -- once convinced it was a legitimate question -- they responded:

. . . the mail truck does not have the right of way. Like other vehicles and even pedestrians, it must pull to the side of the road to let the emergency vehicles pass. Our answer comes from Bill Madison, a spokesman for the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

Everyone else we queried thought the question was unique, to say the least.

"That's about the craziest thing I've ever heard," said an officer with the Los Angeles Police Department's Valley Traffic Division. "I don't even know how people have time to think about stuff like that."

Undaunted, we pressed on.

"OK," a California Highway Patrol officer said in a tone that suggested he didn't take the question seriously.

Finally, Madison responded. "The mail truck is not even in the running, unless the guy is a complete idiot," he said.
A similary query posed by us to the United States Postal Service produced the reply that the USPS was also unaware of any laws granting mail trucks right of way status.

Okay, so if the mail truck doesn't have the right of way, then who does? "Street Smart" also provided an answer to this from a California DMV spokesman:

. . . once the mail truck is safely to the side of the road, the question becomes trickier. Madison speculated that dispatchers would solve the situation before it arose. If they did not, he said it would make sense for the police car to go first and then the firetruck. The ambulance would go last, he said, because if "five seconds makes a difference, you probably aren't going to save the guy anyway."
We have to wonder about that answer. If five seconds makes a difference, the fire department probably isn't going to save the burning building, and the police probably aren't to catch the fleeing criminal either.

A couple of weeks after the "Street Smart" article, another astute Los Angeles Times reader provided his own answer:

I am glad that it was established that the mail truck would not even be in the running, but I am disappointed that it was not pointed out that Section 21806 of the California Vehicle Code makes that clear.

Section 21800 answers the question of which of the remaining three vehicles has the right of way. To make it short, the vehicle to the left of the mail truck has the right of way.

Since everybody has to yield to the vehicle on his right, whoever sees the mail truck on his right gets to go first.

Easy, huh?
Of course, nothing satisfies like empirical evidence: I came home from work one day to find a fire truck, a police car, and an ambulance in the intersection outside our home. I ran indoors and suggested to Barbara that we try to flag down a mail truck to see what would happen, but there's never a mail truck around when you really need one . . .
 

GasX

Lifer
Feb 8, 2001
29,033
6
81
Originally posted by: simms
That's stupid. Firetrucks have the potential to save the most lives. They should go first.
The ambulance probably has someone on board - they win
 

BAMAVOO

Diamond Member
Oct 9, 1999
8,089
41
91
Originally posted by: FrankyJunior
Claim: A United States Postal Service mail truck has the right of way over emergency vehicles.

Status: False.

Example: [Montreal Gazette, 1998]


Here's a question for you. Although hypothetical, it could happen. If a firetruck, police car, postal truck and ambulance -- all with sirens blaring and lights flashing (except the mail truck, of course) -- arrived simultaneously at four corners of an intersection, who would have the right of way?

Who should be allowed to cross the intersection first?


Origins: Surprisingly, quite a few people will answer the above question by proclaiming that the mail truck has the right of way. How this belief came to be is a puzzler, although some respondents have at least made a stab at providing some plausible answers:

The answer to that old theoretical puzzler is the mail truck, by virtue of its federal government status.
That explanation makes a little sense in that we naturally expect federal authority may supersede state or local authority (even if the Postal Service's status as a "federal agency" isn't quite what it used to be), but a mail truck? Cars driven by FBI agents, Border Patrol automobiles, and Army vehicles (including tanks) also have "federal government status," but we're not aware of any laws giving them the right of way over all other vehicles, even in non-emergency situations.

[A] postal truck should have priority because maybe it was carrying a declaration of war that just had to be delivered while the emergency vehicles waited.
Ho ho ho. Imagine Franklin D. Roosevelt announcing to Congress, "I'm sure I dropped that declaration of war against Japan in the mail the day before yesterday. We'll just have to hold off beginning hostilities for a day or two until we can send out another copy. Tell the Navy they'll just have to sit tight for now."

He gave as an example the fact that if a fire truck, an ambulance carrying a patient and a police car in pursuit of a criminal meet a mail truck carrying mail at an intersection, the mail truck has the right of way.

"In the days when this was established," explained Mr. Sulzer, "communication was vital."
Well, maybe so, but putting out fires, catching criminals, and saving lives have traditionally been considered "vital" acitivies as well. It may be, though, that as Mr. Sulzer suggests, the mistaken belief about mail trucks is a carryover from the days of railroads:

"As you may know," he wrote, "the 'fast mail' trains were an important part of the operation of the railroads in their heyday.

"The mail contracts were an important source of income for the railroad and, indeed, one of the purposes for the government establishing railroads was communication through the mail.

"Generally speaking, the fast mail trains had right of way over all other traffic. That is, the track was cleared ahead of the mail. All other traffic went off on a switch track to let it by."
We posed this question to the Los Angeles Times' "Street Smart" column back in 1994, and -- once convinced it was a legitimate question -- they responded:

. . . the mail truck does not have the right of way. Like other vehicles and even pedestrians, it must pull to the side of the road to let the emergency vehicles pass. Our answer comes from Bill Madison, a spokesman for the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

Everyone else we queried thought the question was unique, to say the least.

"That's about the craziest thing I've ever heard," said an officer with the Los Angeles Police Department's Valley Traffic Division. "I don't even know how people have time to think about stuff like that."

Undaunted, we pressed on.

"OK," a California Highway Patrol officer said in a tone that suggested he didn't take the question seriously.

Finally, Madison responded. "The mail truck is not even in the running, unless the guy is a complete idiot," he said.
A similary query posed by us to the United States Postal Service produced the reply that the USPS was also unaware of any laws granting mail trucks right of way status.

Okay, so if the mail truck doesn't have the right of way, then who does? "Street Smart" also provided an answer to this from a California DMV spokesman:

. . . once the mail truck is safely to the side of the road, the question becomes trickier. Madison speculated that dispatchers would solve the situation before it arose. If they did not, he said it would make sense for the police car to go first and then the firetruck. The ambulance would go last, he said, because if "five seconds makes a difference, you probably aren't going to save the guy anyway."
We have to wonder about that answer. If five seconds makes a difference, the fire department probably isn't going to save the burning building, and the police probably aren't to catch the fleeing criminal either.

A couple of weeks after the "Street Smart" article, another astute Los Angeles Times reader provided his own answer:

I am glad that it was established that the mail truck would not even be in the running, but I am disappointed that it was not pointed out that Section 21806 of the California Vehicle Code makes that clear.

Section 21800 answers the question of which of the remaining three vehicles has the right of way. To make it short, the vehicle to the left of the mail truck has the right of way.

Since everybody has to yield to the vehicle on his right, whoever sees the mail truck on his right gets to go first.

Easy, huh?
Of course, nothing satisfies like empirical evidence: I came home from work one day to find a fire truck, a police car, and an ambulance in the intersection outside our home. I ran indoors and suggested to Barbara that we try to flag down a mail truck to see what would happen, but there's never a mail truck around when you really need one . . .


You are wrong. The tests given to firefighters is the mail truck does have the right of way. There is a case going on right now where an ambulance ran a red light and hit a car. The driver and the county are being sued, because the drive of the ambulance did not follow protocol. THEY MUST STOP AND MAKE SURE IT IS CLEAR BEFORE GOING THROUGH A RED LIGHT!
 

loic2003

Diamond Member
Sep 14, 2003
3,844
0
0
see, I'd imagine that if it went down to 'importance', the ambulance would go first. However, I think in reality, the cop car would go first, then the ambulance, then the fire truck. Why? Because what would be the point of the *much faster* cop car being stuck behind the *much slower* fire truck? it makes no sense that a slower vehicle should go in front. That's why they have motorcycle ambulances in London: someone to get there ASAP, to try and stabilise the casualties whilst the slower, better equipped vehicles work their way through.

How anyone thought a mail truck would have priority is beyond me.
 

gsellis

Diamond Member
Dec 4, 2003
6,061
0
0
Originally posted by: BAMAVOO

You are wrong. The tests given to firefighters is the mail truck does have the right of way. There is a case going on right now where an ambulance ran a red light and hit a car. The driver and the county are being sued, because the drive of the ambulance did not follow protocol. THEY MUST STOP AND MAKE SURE IT IS CLEAR BEFORE GOING THROUGH A RED LIGHT!
The test has a question that is wrong. I have also seen a Postal Inspector answer this and the mail has no special privileges. Urban Legend.

And yes, all emergency vehicles must stop at all control devices before proceeding if they are not in their favor. That has nothing to do with right of way. Once the ambulance makes a complete stop, it has right of way regardless of light color in any direction. All other traffic must stop. By failing to stop, the ambulance broke the law and the driver that hit them is not at fault.

 

Kelemvor

Lifer
May 23, 2002
16,930
7
81
Originally posted by: gsellis
Originally posted by: BAMAVOO

You are wrong. The tests given to firefighters is the mail truck does have the right of way. There is a case going on right now where an ambulance ran a red light and hit a car. The driver and the county are being sued, because the drive of the ambulance did not follow protocol. THEY MUST STOP AND MAKE SURE IT IS CLEAR BEFORE GOING THROUGH A RED LIGHT!
The test has a question that is wrong. I have also seen a Postal Inspector answer this and the mail has no special privileges. Urban Legend.

And yes, all emergency vehicles must stop at all control devices before proceeding if they are not in their favor. That has nothing to do with right of way. Once the ambulance makes a complete stop, it has right of way regardless of light color in any direction. All other traffic must stop. By failing to stop, the ambulance broke the law and the driver that hit them is not at fault.
Exactly. If the ambulance didn't slow down to make sure the intersection was clear and just powed right through, the ambulance was in the wrong and should get sued. Any time you see a cop or whatever get up to an intersection, they should always slow down to make sure it's clear before they go through. Emergency vehicles can go through the red lights but they have to make sure it's clear first.
 

broon

Diamond Member
Jun 5, 2002
3,660
1
0
If they are all responding to the same emergency (except mailman) the cop goes first, then firetruck, them ambulance. The police arrive to scene first to ensure safety for other emergency workers. If the scene is not safe, neither firetruck or ambulance will respond.
 

Demon-Xanth

Lifer
Feb 15, 2000
20,551
2
81
In an ideal world:
Cop, ambulance, firetruck, mail truck.
Why? Because the order of fastest to get out of the way of the others comes into play.

In reality:
Cop doesn't even slow down, ambulance stops because the fire truck sure as hell isn't going to. The mail truck gets creamed. The ambulance carts off the victims of the shootout between the cops (more cops were on the way) and the mailman after the mailman shot four of the guys on the fire truck for hitting him and the lone cop that made it to the scene got shot by a drug dealer because he had no backup.
 

deejayshakur

Platinum Member
Aug 7, 2000
2,585
0
0
Originally posted by: Lithium381
Originally posted by: deejayshakur
so the ambulance is on the way to save a life, pd is on the way to prevent a life from being taken, a firetruck i guess you could argue it both ways, and the mailman will spend the rest of his life ringless.
why get married? he gets to screw the po po's wife, the paramedics wife, and the firemens wife while they're at work!
actually, that was an allusion to karl malone. but you knew that ;)
 

DaShen

Lifer
Dec 1, 2000
10,710
1
0
I had to view results before I decided on Ambulance, but it makes sense. Chances are their need is more immediate if they have a patient in the ambulance.
 

geecee

Platinum Member
Jan 14, 2003
2,383
43
91
"The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few... or the one."

Thus, Fire Truck. :p
 

Bozono

Banned
Aug 17, 2005
2,883
0
0
A lot of people don't realize this but Firemen actually have more authoritarian rights than Coppers. I vote Fire Truck.
 

ColdFusion718

Diamond Member
Mar 4, 2000
3,496
9
81
Originally posted by: FallenHero
Originally posted by: Captain_Howdy
Well, the mail man is packing the most heat, so I chose him...
lol
Actually, the fire truck should go first, after comes the ambulance, the police car, then finally the mail man. Why should the fire truck go first? Ummm have you ever been in a fire? Five seconds is a lot of fvcking time to be on fire. The mail man doesn't want to go first anyway; what's he going to do, deliver your mail on time? heh
 

RadioHead84

Platinum Member
Jan 8, 2004
2,166
0
0
Hmm thats a tough one.

I think the Ambulance goes first...its going to save an actual life that is in immediate danger. But on the same hand the Fire truck might be going to save a baby in a window or something which is equally as bad. Also maybe the cop is like Bruce willis in Die Hard and is going to defuse a bomb that only he knows about(that was a stretch). Screw the mailman he can wait.

Of course..maybe they are all going to the same place..in which case the cop car should go first, then the ambulance, then the fire truck and then the mail man. Cop car is faster then the ambulcance..which is faster then the fire truck, which is more important the damn mail man.

Which scenarios need all 4 cars in one spot at the same time? A building on fire resulting from a bomb that just so happends to be a mail room full of people...
 

gsellis

Diamond Member
Dec 4, 2003
6,061
0
0
OK. The all go at the same time, except the mailman. The cop car clears the intersection before the firetruck has even moved halfway over the balk line. The ambulance would be just clearing the center just before the firetruck finally got any speed going. Everyone wins! And the mailman is so mad, he goes back to the office and wipes out the AK-47.
 

Red Squirrel

No Lifer
May 24, 2003
62,649
9,773
126
twitter.com
The only thing that can legally happen here is the mail truck bursts into flames due to foul play such as a bomb or arson. Then the police, ambulance, and firetruck are already where they're suppose to be at this point, and everyone is happy.
 

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