March 28th 2008
Normally you might consider an ambulance in the rear view mirror as something that will slow down your transit from A to B. Yesterday I found myself in an unusual driving situation where the presence of an ambulance actually saved me about 30 seconds of driving time.
It was a rare conjunction at a T intersection, where I wanted to make a right on red, but there was a constant stream of cars turning from the opposite direction blocking me. Suddenly I looked in the rear-view mirror and saw an ambulance coming from behind. The ambulance cut off the stream of cars that were preventing me from turning, effectively setting a pick.
This allowed me to execute my right-hand turn before the stream of cars would have otherwise allowed me to do so, saving ~30 seconds. Exploiting the path cleared by an ambulance is normally illegal (ie: stay 500 feet behind), but in this odd set of circumstances, I was actually distancing myself from the emergency vehicle more by turning as I did.