Emergency vehicles respond to urgent calls every day and it’s important they are able to get to the incident as quickly as possible.

One of the biggest problems the emergency services face when attending an incident can be other drivers who panic at the sight of blue lights and the sound of sirens. Some drivers are so keen to give way that they pull over in the wrong place, while others don’t give way at all.

Here are a few simple tips to help the emergency services when they’re on route to an incident:

  • When you hear sirens or see blue lights, stay calm and alert, avoid being distracted, continue to look and listen and be prepared for more than one vehicle.
  • Sometimes it can be difficult to see where the vehicle is coming from, the reaction of other drivers such as slowing down or pulling over might indicate which direction it is coming from.
  • When you see flashing blue lights in your rearview mirror, try to anticipate which route the driver will take.
  • Don’t slam on your brakes or stop suddenly. Look for a safe place to pull over and indicate to let other road users and the emergency vehicle driver know you intend to pull over.
  • When looking for a place to pull over, don’t block the road or a junction.
  • Once the emergency vehicle has passed, check there aren’t more coming before signalling and merging back into traffic.

Motorways: The emergency services will use the hard shoulder if all lanes are blocked, so don’t pull over or drive on it. Pull onto the inside lane if possible and wait for the vehicle to pass.  They could be travelling to a road traffic accident, so be aware that you may be approaching an incident.

One – way street: If you are driving along a one-way street or a two-way road where the outside lane is congested, continue at a reasonable speed, let the emergency vehicle follow you until it is clear and safe to pull over.

Hills and blind bends: Don’t stop on the brow of a hill or blind bend.  This is likely to put the emergency vehicle driver and oncoming traffic at risk.

Junctions: Vehicles approaching from all directions must give way to an emergency vehicle until it passes through the junction.  Ensure you pull over safely and don’t block the junction.

Traffic lights: Vehicles approaching from all directions must give way to an emergency vehicle until it passes through the lights.  If the lights are on red and an emergency vehicle is behind you, you cannot legally advance through the lights. Wait until the lights go to green, advance forward and pull over as soon as it is safe to do so.

Box junctions: If you are stopped at a box junction with an emergency vehicle behind you, you cannot legally enter the junction until it is your turn to do so.

Bus lanes: You should not enter a bus lane to let an emergency vehicle past, you are liable to a fixed penalty fine.

Stopped or parked emergency vehicle: If you see an emergency vehicle on stop, slow down and continue with caution giving them a wide berth.  The crew could be working around the outside of the vehicle.

Accident scene: When passing an accident scene, don’t be distracted or slow down unnecessarily, this could cause another accident.

Download how to safely let an emergency vehicle pass




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