The Fire Department responded to smoke pouring from a Con Edison manhole at approximately 8:10 am today at the northeast corner of Vanderbilt Avenue and Bergen Street.
The real story was an accident in the intersection caused when traffic heading west on Bergen Street did not stop so a livery service car could move out of the fire trucks' way.
As five fire trucks converged on the scene, with horns blaring and lights flashing, I witnessed at least six vehicles and cyclists heading west on Bergen Street break the law by running through the intersection. New York State's Vehicle and Traffic Law clearly states you must pull your vehicle over to the side of the road to allow emergency traffic to pass you. Emergency traffic always has the right of way. Another part of the law states you must always obey the follow the directions of emergency personnel. So if the police officer, traffic agent, EMT or fireman tells you to move, don't you dare tell them the light is red. Move!
The drivers who chose to ignore the law made it through the intersection successfully except for one unlucky individual.
This driver didn't make it as his car and a car going South on Vanderbilt, directed to move through the intersection by the fire trucks stuck behind him, moved into the intersection as directed and collided with the vehicle crossing Vanderbilt Avenue.
What if, instead of hitting another vehicle, one or more of the vehicles showing complete disregard or lack of knowledge of traffic laws struck and killed a fireman who was running to the scene? Or if someone else, whether or foot or in a vehicle died as a result of their reckless disregard for one of your most basic traffic laws?
Also, is it time to rethink the concept of "traffic calming" when emergency vehicles can't safely negotiate certain intersections without forcing cars into intersections?
Thankfully, no one was killed or injured this morning. Next time, it could be different.