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ASK A COP — Can I run a red light if an emergency vehicle is behind me?

Shelia from Port Arthur asks: Is it illegal to run a red light if there is an emergency vehicle with lights activated coming up behind you and there are cars on both sides of you waiting at the traffic light? If so, do you make the emergency vehicle wait for the light to change so you can go through it legally? How is one supposed to react in this situation?

Answer: You’re definitely asking a question where a motorist is between a rock and a hard place. That’s when an emergency vehicle is behind you at a red light with all of those red and blue lights flashing and sirens blaring urging you and other motorists to move out of the way when there’s legally no where to go. If you can’t move safely, DON’T move at all. Although you want to get out of the way, we definitely don’t need you to present a safety hazard, run out in the road and cause a traffic crash.

I’ve always instructed motorists to turn on the right signal and when it’s safe to turn right …. DON’T run a red light TURN RIGHT at the light! Therefore you can be safe and allow passage to the emergency vehicle. We who operate emergency vehicles understand the intersection doesn’t always open like the Red Sea. We need to be patient until it’s safe to proceed. Often times when emergency vehicles are blaring their sirens, it’s not always for the vehicle right in front of them. They’re trying to get the attention of all motorists at the intersection. I NEVER encourage anyone to run a red light, for according to the Texas Transportation Code, the only person who can authorize any motorist to disregard a red light is a police officer.

Karen from Winnie asks: I work in the city, which means I drive here almost daily. My question is I have a pick-up truck that I have a bumper pull trailer, and I have often times left my trailer tailgate open as I’m traveling to work. I don’t have any loads on the back of my truck, but I just like it to stay down because I believe it gives me better gas mileage. My question is, is it illegal for me to drive down the road with my tailgate open? I have a coworker that told me it was illegal, so I need to know because I don’t want to break the law.

Answer: Believe it or not, this is a question I get regularly. I’m not quite certain where this rumor came from or who or what state or country it is illegal. In the state of Texas, there’s no such law in the Transportation Code that states if you drive with your tailgate down it is illegal. There may be some cities that have adopted an ordinance making it illegal to drive a truck with the tailgate down. You need to check with your local law enforcement or city ordinance to see if driving with tailgate down has been addressed.

Ed from Groves asks: I’ll be honest, I wasn’t a fan of yours, Officer Antoine, because you gave me a speeding ticket that I thought should have been a warning. But now, thanks to you coming to speak about safe driving on my job and these weekly articles, I see you in a different light. I was speaking with a friend about speeding and remembered you taught us it’s possible to get a speeding ticket going under the posted speed limit. Can you give someone a ticket going under the speed limit?

Answer: Yes, you are absolutely correct. There are situations in which you can receive a speeding ticket by traveling under the posted speed limit. The definition I like to use for speeding is “the act of driving a motor vehicle faster than what is legal are safe.” We all know the legal part of the definition is driving a motor vehicle over the posted speed limit.

Now the SAFE part of the definition comes with road or weather conditions. Consider this, if the speed limit is 50, would it be safe to drive 35 and there’s ice on the ground? Of course not, so therefore if it’s not safe to drive 35 with ice on the ground – even though you’re going under the posted speed limit – you can still be issued a citation because you’re driving 35 on ice, which is not safe.

Join Officer Rickey Antoine for Ask A Cop Live, on KSAP 96.9 FM, “The Breeze” every Tuesday from 1 to 2:30 p.m. as he discusses the Ask A Cop article. Also, tune in via ksapthebreeze.org or call 409-982-0247. Remember to email questions to Rickey.Antoine@portarthurtx.gov, or call 409-983-8673 or mail them to: Ofc. Rickey Antoine, 645 4th Street, Port Arthur, Texas, 77640. If you happen to see me in public you can Ask A Cop!