Resource:Roll Call Reminder - Navigating Intersections

Dear Department Leader, 

Thank you for taking an interest in the importance of navigating intersections while operating an emergency vehicle.  The following page will guide you and your officers in discussing the importance of navigating intersections along with some helpful reminders. 

When responding to an emergency call for service, entering and clearing an intersection is a dangerous proposition. The United States Department of Transportation reports intersection collisions account for 40% of all vehicle collisions. When you have multiple vehicles entering an intersection, along with a patrol car responding to an emergency, all it takes is one mistake to jeopardize your safety and that of the public.

What can your agency do to reduce the risks faced when approaching intersections?  Remind your officers that they must take appropriate steps to clear all intersections before entering. When approaching an intersection, officers should do the following if they do not have the right of way:

  • Ensure lights and sirens are activated and exercise due regard for others.
  • Reduce speed.
  • Slowly maneuver around any vehicles stopped before the intersection.
  • Clear the intersection, making sure there are no vehicles or pedestrians at risk.
  • Activate wail or yelp, or air horn as an additional audible alert while approaching the intersection.
  • Slowly pull forward and proceed through the intersection.


Intersections present significant challenges.  Understanding the dangers of navigating an intersection as well as the hazards faced while clearing an intersection is a key element to safe vehicle operation, and is essential to ensuring the safety of your officers and others while on the roadway.


Roll Call Reminder

Welcome Law Enforcement Officers,

An officer’s mission in responding to priority and emergency calls for service is to get there quickly and safely.  Regardless of lights and sirens, quite often drivers fail to yield the right of way to an emergency vehicle.  Drivers are taught to move over as much as possible and to yield to the emergency vehicle; however, drivers do not always follow these rules or are not aware of the presence of the emergency vehicle.  Traffic collisions are more likely to occur when an officer has not taken the necessary steps to ensure an intersection is clear from the hazards posed by others on the road.

There are inherent risks when entering intersections. These risks affect you and the other drivers. You never know what other drivers may do; therefore, you must take your time and use caution when approaching an intersection. Failure to clear an intersection first could be tragic for you and others.  

Remember to clear each lane of traffic and all crosswalks at the intersection. If your vision is obscured, stop before proceeding. Take into account the degree of risk while entering the intersection as well. Degree of risk includes environmental factors such as weather and time of day. Consider the nature of the area. Is it residential, commercial, a school zone, or an open highway?  What is the volume, type, speed, and direction of vehicular traffic?  

  • What intersection hazards do you face most frequently?
  • What factors must you consider when approaching an intersection?
  • What steps must you take to ensure an intersection is clear? 


Navigating an intersection is one of the most hazardous driving maneuvers you face when responding to an emergency call for service.  Take your time and use caution when approaching and clearing an intersection.  Remember, you don’t have the right of way if others on the road haven’t given it to you.