When traffic starts to part and those sirens sound, it can be a fraught moment for any driver.
Spotting an ambulance with its blue lights flashing when there are lots of vehicles on the road means you have to think on your feet, but also act within the parameters of the law.
As balancing acts go, it’s not always easy – especially if you don’t have much notice, or if it’s during rush hour, or if you’re not the most seasoned driver .
You obviously want (and have) to let the emergency service vehicle past, but there are a few considerations you need to make first.
Because letting an ambulance pass in some instances could land you with a hefty fine.
And it could be to the tune of up to £1000.
The highway code states that you should give way to vehicles with flashing lights – including ambulances, police cars, fire engines and emergency doctors.
In this instance, avoid doing the following:
- Moving through a red light – which will also result in you having three penalty points on your licence.
- Ducking into a bus lane to clear the path
- Entering a yellow box junction
As for what you should do…
The Highway Code says: "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."
Be sure you stop before the brow of a hill, under no circumstance mount the kerb, don’t put anyone else in danger and don’t brake harshly.
The Blue Light Aware website advises: "Of course, there will be times when there simply is no room for an emergency service vehicle to get past, or perhaps its crew are activated by their control room to respond to an emergency while they are waiting with everyone else at the traffic lights.
"On these occasions, they know that other motorists are not allowed to ‘jump’ the red light, and the emergency vehicle would ideally not activate its sirens and lights until it was safe for the vehicle in front to cross the solid white line at the junction.
"On the (hopefully) rare occasions that a blue light vehicle, in ’emergency mode’, is sitting behind another vehicle at a red traffic light, it’s important to appreciate that it would be both very dangerous and illegal for the other vehicle to move across the solid white line."
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