posted 6 years ago

Call For Emergency Vehicle Rule Change

Traffic stopped close to an incident should keep a lane space free for emergency vehicles.

Traffic stopped close to an incident should “keep a lane space free for emergency vehicles”, say nearly fifty percent of those who responded to a poll by The Institute of Advanced Motorists. A similar system has recently become law in Austria. As such – according to the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) - those travelling on motorways and duel carriageways must create corridors when the roads become congested. But how? Motorists on the left of two lane roads simply move further left, perhaps onto the hard shoulders. Those on the right, in contrast, move as far right as possible. When there are more than two lanes those on the left move further left and those in the middle – and on the right – move further right. This creates spare lanes which help the police, fire, ambulance and breakdown services move around more easily.

The Institute of Advanced Motorists' poll also suggested that a worrying percentage of drivers react badly to blue flashing lights. Why? Because thirty-five percent did not “know the current rules” for dealing with approaching emergency vehicles. As such, twenty-five percent revealed they would drive through red lights to let emergency vehicles pass. That is dangerous and illegal. Furthermore, nearly thirty-three percent have moved into bus lanes which is an offence during their hours of operation. Fines might have followed - but eighty-six percent of the respondents believed that is “unfair”.

The Institute has also published a few tips to help drivers cope with emergency vehicles:

- “Keep your cool – if you see or hear an emergency vehicle approaching aid concentration by turning off your music, and take a few seconds to plan your next move. Acting in a state of panic could be dangerous and delay the emergency vehicle more.

- Stop – look for somewhere to pull over and stop if it's safe to do so, even if the emergency vehicle is on the other side of the road. Indicators can be used to show that you have acknowledged the approaching blue lights and intend to move, but avoid usage if it could confuse other road users.

- Stay safe – avoid pulling onto kerbs, pavements and verges - verges can mask numerous hazards and mounting the pavement can put pedestrians at risk.

- Abide by the law – If you go through a red light or into a bus lane to make way for an emergency vehicle, unless directed to do so by a police officer, you are breaking the law and could be fined, irrespective of your good intentions.

- Stay alert – be aware that there may be more than one emergency vehicle on the approach. Listen for more than one siren, look all around before moving off, and bear in mind that you may need to move over again.”

The Institute's Chief Examiner, Peter Rodger, added: “loud sirens and flashing blue lights cause many motorists to panic, mainly because drivers are not routinely taught how to respond to them.” He continued: “Emergency vehicle drivers want you to help them reach the emergency at hand as quickly as possible. Behave calmly, legally, safely and predictably and move out of the way as soon as it is safe to do so to facilitate their route."

With over 40 plus years of mixed driving experience often in the most extreme weather conditions I can agree that most road users appear to have respect for vehicles on blue lights. However by observation many do not know what to do and where to position their car. I was taught never to stop dead which many drivers do but to keep forward motion pulling as far to left or right as possible and easing off accelerator or braking when safe to do so indicating as necessary. Simples!!!!

Drivers need to be trained on how to react and what to do when the emergency vehicle is on its approach and passes the road user ,my experience as a road patrol officer has shown me that in general road users have little or no idea what actions they should carry out and in general they at times present a real danger to emergency service personel

The new noise of ambulances police cars etc is just a noise and you do not know what direction they are coming from, with the old bells and sirenens you scould tell which direction they were coming and so avoid them

On a lighter note. I was in Dublin rush hour traffic at a traffic light at red on a three lane road and saw and heard an ambulance coming up behind. Everyone quickly moved over and created a fourth lane which allowed the ambulance to drive straight throughb I was impressed until a line of other traffic followed suit taking the opportunity to avoid the queue. Unfortunately for them there was a police car at the back which pulled them all over and booked them one by one. I loved visiting Ireland.

Having driven on motorways for years, I understood that emergency vehicles use the hard shoulder to pass traffic to get the scene! this article suggests that vehicles should move to the left into the hard shoulder to let emergency vehicles pass through a channel!! surely this is incorrect ( maybe its because it a directive from the FIA!! )

If u can't move in to bus lane to giv way to emergency vehicle then all they hav to do is wait for safe passage which could mean delays in help .whoevr said banned the woman's wearing shawls caz that makes thier vision impaired must b having a laugh.caz that also means u can't wear a hat n scarfs if its ha they wil make ur vision impaired as wel.most people in that kind of situation just panic n they don't know wat to .its got nothing to wether u r wearing a bikini or burka.get som life

The ammount of people who immediately slow down is disturbing. Fire engines and ambulances don't acyually go that fast so the obvious thing to do is to drive ahead out of their way. Most arn't even reaching the speed limit. The bus lane comment sums up the UK. DFull of half wits who follow rules for the sake of it. I hope its not your mother dying in the ambulance as the No 86 to the cemetry gates sails past in its clear bus lane

It would make sense for emergency vehicles to use operative bus lanes, the occasional bus may have to join other traffic to allow passage, but that shouldn't present too much of a problem.

Several points:- 1/ This is a good article, but also should actual tell people the correct action to take to get out of the way of an approaching emergancy vehicle. 2/ Crossing a red light could cause another incident. 3/ Using a bus lane during the hours of operation to make space for an emergancy vehicle - well buses can use the rest of the road at any time so it just proves what an ass the law is when it says that the ordinary motorist can not use the bus lane to assist making a clear & safe passage for an emergancy vehicle. Please can the author/ s of the above article urgently publish by any means a list of suggested "safe" moves for the ordinary motorist to take in order to make a clear & safe route for all emergancy vehicles.

It's a classic comment that one would get a ticket for going into a bus lane - how pathetic! Where has our common sense gone? - you'd only be in there until the emergency vehicle had passed after all and I guess any bus driver might have the intelligence to realise what was happening or would be stopped in any event for the same reason as everyone else.....

i think what we need is an advert on tv to explain the dos and dont of this kind of thing so that everybody would know what to do.they do it for drinking and driving so why not this.

As an IAM driver, I must wholeheartedly agree with both other comments from David and Peter. And it is totally wrong to suggest that you should 'STOP' as in the second 'tip'; you should keep driving and only 'STOP' when safe to do so. I know it goes on to say that but Police and other emergency vehicle drivers regularly get very angry with drivers who just 'STOP'. In the Midlands recently, an ambulance team got very angry with a driver who just sat rigidly at the lights blocking them. She had a head shawl on and I don't think she could even hear or see the ambulance as her vision was seriously impaired - she was looking around but oblivious to the fact that it was behind her - it is an incredibly restrictive garment to wear in a car and should be banned. Equally, I have seen drivers ignore emergency vehicles because they have their stereos up far too loud - again, this should be a serious fine for many reasons, not least their music is invariably rubbish!!!

If you are at the front of a queue at Red Traffic Lights .. It is NOT true that you should just sit there blocking the ambulance, many would die if that practice, as suggested my the IAM, was widespread. Cars should pull forward & to the side to make space to allow the ambulance to proceed through the junction, which will be done with great care and at low speed. You should not 'drive through' the junction and ideally your rear wheels will not need to cross the line, but crossing the line to the degree required to enable you to pull out of the way will not result in a camera fine nor police action in my experience as it's evident that you were pulling over and not crossing the junction. If a ticket were issued the time and location will allow the adjudicator to verify you were not at fault and indeed would ensure you did not commit the far more serious criminal offence as per the The Emergency Workers (Obstruction) Act 2006 in that it is an offense to obstruct or hinder certain emergency workers who are responding to emergency circumstances. Emergency workers are defined as firefighters, ambulance workers and those transporting blood, organs or equipment on behalf of the NHS, coastguards and lifeboat crews. Whilst 'reasonable excuse' will offer a defense to a person who is in a traffic jam who cannot move, it would not be a defense if it was simply a matter of refusing to pull forward and to one side for fear of a ticket.

Moving over into a bus lane to allow emergency vehicles to pass should not be a punishable offence