Can First Responders Speed?

If you are wanting to know if first responders are breaking the law speeding, or even allowed to speed at all, then you have come to the right place. Why do they speed in general? Do they need to follow speed limits like everyone else? Read on to find out.

Are first responders legally allowed to speed?

Yes, first responders are legally obligated to speed given they are rushing to a call dispatch has sent them to. Firefighter/EMT staff turn on their lights and sirens to warn other cars to move out of the way so they can safely and quickly head to the scene without any incident. Police are also allowed to speed if they are also given a call to the scene, so long as they put on their lights and siren as well.

Why Is It Legal for A First Responder to Speed?

It is legal due to the fact they are dispatched to an emergency; they need to get there in a short amount of time. When you are a first responder, just a minute can decide who lives or who dies. So, in turn, they are allowed to speed on the roads and use whatever means necessary to move vehicles that are in the way.

When you call 911, you want someone to your location immediately to protect you and possibly save your life. First responders are risking everything to make sure you are safe, even their safety. So, when you see a first responder barreling down the road with their lights on, pull over and let them go save a life.

Can First Responders Speed?

Just remember, every second counts when it comes to responding to an emergency. They are risking it all when they are driving. Maybe one day you will need them to come to save you when you are extremely injured.

Are First Responders allowed to speed using personal vehicles?

So, you are just driving along the road, and you see a truck come barreling down with sirens and lights on. What is your first response? If it is to keep driving, you are causing even more of a dilemma.

Unless they are using a siren and lights, first responders cannot go over the posted speed limit. There have been cases of these responders running red lights, speeding in areas they shouldn’t, and also causing injury or even death to civilians.

This article talks about how a firefighter was responding to a pull box at a school. This ended up being a false alarm and the firefighter killed two people. Another case is about a firefighter crashing head-on into a van killing a passenger and injuring the other.

Overall, if the driver is not on duty or even using the proper protocol in your state, they are to follow the same driving laws you are. If not, that can cost them their life, or others’ lives. It also can get them in trouble with their boss and law enforcement.

What Is the Maximum Speed I Can Go When Passing an Emergency Vehicle?

This varies within your state. I would say to go under 10 miles to give them more room to pass you and for you to not get in their way. If you are trying to race past the emergency vehicle, the speeding fines are doubled.

The majority of the people I have seen stop when the red lights come on for fire trucks and ambulances. This is common courtesy and lets them go where they need to go. You need to think about what you would want others to do if you were the one who called for help.

Can First Responders Speed?

What some people like to do when an emergency vehicle is passing, is to follow close behind them so they too can get ahead of traffic. This is not only illegal but can cost you your life if you choose to follow them.

You can get in a crash from them slamming on their brakes, others can hit you after they pass because they don’t expect to see someone right behind the first responders. Take time to observe your surroundings.

What to Do When an Emergency Vehicle Is Behind You?

When you are sitting at a red light and you see some flashing lights behind you, do not keep driving. The safest and best way you can help is to steer to the far right and move out of their way.

When an emergency vehicle needs to get past you, they can utilize the lines in the middle of the road to avoid traffic.

If the vehicle is on the opposite side of the road, and you are not on a highway, you need to pull your car aside and make a complete stop and watch for backup in case they also need to get by.

This is to make sure there is enough room for all the vehicles dispatched to get by.

If you are passing a stopped emergency vehicle, you need to move under 10 miles per hour to go around it. If there is another lane you can access, take that lane and move forward.

It is not best to drive at the same speed around the vehicle. You can injure someone if they are rushing back to the vehicle or even cause damage to the vehicle itself.

Read this article from Allstate to find out more tips and more information regarding when you are approaching an emergency vehicle. It will be useful, especially if you ever find yourself in this situation.

How fast can first responders go in an emergency?

This depends on which type of the first responder you are talking about. All first responders are not to exceed the speed limit if it is not an emergency. However, if it is an emergency, read below how fast they can drive legally.


Firefighters, believe it or not, do not have a set speed. They are allowed to exceed the speed limit in an emergency, but they can’t just drive recklessly.
Usually, firefighters will use a speed that will get them to their destination the fastest, but if there are slow traffic and other factors, they slow down.


EMT personnel are allowed to go 10 miles over the speed limit. They, just like the firefighters, do not necessarily have a set-in-stone speed limit.
However, if there are a lot of cars on the road or they need to go into oncoming traffic, they can go 20 miles an hour.


When police officers are working, there is no limit to how fast they can go. However, when they are off duty, or when they are responding to a non-emergency call, they have to go the posted speed limit.

The police are not above the law, they cannot just speed and do whatever they want with no consequences. The same consequences are applied to the police no matter the rank.

That is just some information about how fast they can speed. There is so much more information about first responders driving requirements, that it always varies on the department.

Can First Responders Speed?

Now you know the answer to the question “Can First Responders

Now that you have the answer to your once burning question, you can be at peace knowing if first responders are above the law and are allowed to speed.

If you see a personal vehicle without the proper protocol, turning on their siren, and maybe even trying to issue someone a fake ticket….

That is a fake police officer, call actual 911 to confirm the badge number and a brief description of the person in question and have them tell you what to do next. Never give out information unless it is an actual officer.

More about first responders HERE.

Related Questions

Can first responders run red lights?

This all depends on the situation. If it is an emergency, with lights and sirens, then absolutely. If it is a personal vehicle and you are stuck at a red light, but they turn on their siren and then turn it off after they cross, then that is illegal. It is all mainly up to the chief of each responder to decide what protocol to enforce on our first responders.

What happens if a first responder gets in an accident?

Since they are protected by the government, they have much more complex claims than regular vehicles. In Arizona, if a first responder causes an accident while going to the address they were dispatched to, they are immune from lawsuits. That is only when they are going to a dispatched address.

Why do first responders get divorced?

Firefighters have the most divorce rates compared to other first responders. This is most likely due to them not being home a lot, the amount of stress and physical trauma they go through, and so much more. When you become a firefighter, you are risking your life and also your relationships with loved ones. Take time to think about how your relationships will be affected and how you can overcome the challenges ahead.

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Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.