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Emergency Vehicles

Friday, 14 February 2014

Get out of the way as soon as you can safely

Deciding what to do when you hear an emergency vehicle approaching can be a dilemma. Do you stay where you are and potentially block the progress of an emergency vehicle? Or do you move into a position that may put you or other road users at risk?

Unfortunately, some drivers over-react to emergency service vehicles travelling on "blues and twos" (blue lights and two-tone horns). This is often because they don''t hear or see the emergency vehicle until it''s too close, and then take drastic action to get out of the way.

The IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists) says that good driving practice will alert you early to emergency vehicles: regular mirror checks (side and rear) for example, and keeping the windows slightly down around town, so you can hear sirens approaching.

Don''t panic and just brake. It''s natural to want to react. But instinctively putting your brakes on immediately in front of an emergency vehicle doesn''t help: it slows the progress of the emergency vehicle and jeopardises other road users.

Think about where you are on the road. You should deal with the problem in the same way that you deal with any other potentially hazardous driving situation. What is the safest option available to you?

Don''t cross red traffic lights or speed to get out of the way. The emergency driver has training and legal exemptions that you don''t have.
Bus lanes and box junctions can be problems too, but let them resolve the problem of breaking the rules - not you.

If you are moving it may well be that you can continue at a reasonable pace and the emergency vehicle can follow you out of a pocket of congestion (such as a blocked one way system). In that scenario, attempting to pull over too soon, or slow down, might just cause a needless obstruction and so hamper the progress of the emergency vehicle.

Indicate your intentions clearly. Don''t pull in opposite other obstructions, such as centre bollards. If you are thinking about pulling over across an entrance to a school or factory, you may be unwittingly preventing the emergency vehicle reaching its destination. And do think about where you are asking the emergency driver to overtake you - on the brow of a hill or a blind bend can be placing him or her in a very difficult position.

Get out of the way as soon as you can do so in safety.