Don’t Panic in the Path of Emergency Vehicles
3rd December 2018
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Do you know how to react when an emergency vehicle approaches? During some recent driving lessons I have witnessed motorists acting badly, or even dangerously, at the sight of flashing lights.

Far from helping the emergency services, the actions of some drivers could easily cause an incident requiring a 999 call. From mounting pavements to pulling out at junctions into oncoming traffic, some people ignore fundamental Highway Code rules including going over red traffic lights.

Stopping seems to be a popular reaction. This can block the road when there is oncoming traffic, causing the emergency vehicle to come to a stop. I have even seen someone needlessly stopping on a dual carriageway, even though the right-hand lane was clear allowing the emergency vehicle to pass.

As well as creating an additional hazard, many of these actions contravene traffic laws. For example, you will still commit an offence if you go over a red light (risking a fine or penalty points), even if you do so for an emergency vehicle.

It seems that a lot of people should be reminded of rule 219 of the Highway Code: 

Emergency and Incident Support Vehicles
You should look and listen for ambulances, fire engines, police, doctors or other emergency vehicles using flashing blue, red or green lights and sirens or flashing headlights, or traffic officer and incident support vehicles using flashing amber lights. When one approaches do not panic. Consider the route of such a vehicle and take appropriate action to let it pass, while complying with all traffic signs. If necessary, pull to the side of the road and stop, but try to avoid stopping before the brow of a hill, a bend or narrow section of road. Do not endanger yourself, other road users or pedestrians and avoid mounting the kerb. Do not brake harshly on approach to a junction or roundabout, as a following vehicle may not have the same view as you.

The police, paramedics, firefighters and other emergency services are subject to the same rules of the road as you. When responding to a 999 call, they must drive with the same care and attention as anyone else, but are permitted to exceed the speed limit, go over red lights and use the hard shoulder.

The key thing to remember is to stay within the law. The mother of one of my pupils thought it was perfectly okay to get out of the way of all emergency vehicles, even if it meant running a red light or driving down the pavement!

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About the Author

Victoria H

Member since: 11th March 2014

My name is Victoria Hunter and I'm a true Hertford person - I went to school in Hertford and grew up here. I understand the importance of bringing trusted businesses and the community together, and believe...

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