Blues and twos


How Should You React To Emergency Vehicles?


The Highway Code offers little advice on the correct course of action to take upon seeing emergency vehicles travelling on an emergency call. This aide memoir seeks to address that shortfall in order to enhance road safety and improve the public understanding of the intentions of emergency vehicle drivers.


Here are some dos and don’ts.


Do not mount kerbs to avoid emergency vehicles. You may damage your vehicles steering tyres, wheels, and suspension. Larger vehicles may damage the pavement. There is also a risk to pedestrians.


Do not stop opposite vehicles or obstructions if such positioning would not allow the emergency vehicle to pass.


If you are about to emerge from a side road and see or hear an emergency vehicle on major road, do not try to emerge until it passes.


If, whilst travelling across a traffic light junction, you become aware of an emergency vehicle approaching from either side, do not brake harshly. This may cause an accident. If you cannot stop by gradual braking keep travelling across the junction. Emergency vehicles must give way to traffic crossing on the green lights.


Similarly, if you are on a roundabout and see an emergency vehicle approaching, do not brake harshly to allow that vehicle to enter the roundabout, there may be a vehicle behind you that is unable to stop. If possible reduce speed gently without causing danger to yourself or other road users to allow the emergency vehicle to enter the roundabout.


After one emergency vehicle has passed be aware that a second vehicle may be approaching. Check your mirrors and listen for the sirens. When there are two vehicles running towards the same incident, different types of sirens should be used to assist other road users identification.


If an emergency vehicle is approaching from behind whilst you are travelling along a double white line system, where the line nearer to you is solid, maintain a safe speed and do not exceed the limit. The emergency vehicle will hang back from your vehicle and may even turn off some of the emergency equipment. If you see an obvious area to pull off the road signal your intention to do so. At the end of the white line system or where the lines change priority find a safe place to stop or slow down to allow the emergency vehicle to pass.


Where emergency vehicles are travelling on dual-carriageways or motorways drivers in front should move to their nearside lanes. This will allow the emergency vehicle to use the outer lane. When moving into the nearside lanes, drivers should signal their intentions and take care not to pull directly in front of a vehicle already in that lane.


Where the traffic is stationary, or very slow moving on multi-laned roads, the emergency vehicle may straddle the lane markings. Other road users should then move in the appropriate direction to facilitate the progress of the emergency vehicle.