Reacting-emergency vehicles

How should Learner drivers react to emergency response vehicles?

The sudden appearance of an emergency response vehicle on “blues and twos” can be challenging for Learner drivers. So what should you teach Learner drivers on how to react? Sgt Doug Miners of the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary gives us the benefit of his advice.

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 Learner drivers understanding of emergency vehicle drivers.

Here are some dos and don’ts for Learner drivers:


Do not allow Learner drivers to mount kerbs to avoid emergency vehicles. They may damage your vehicles steering, tyres, wheels, and suspension. There is also risk to pedestrians.


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

Emergency from side road

If your learner driver is about to emerge from a side road and you see or hear an emergency vehicle on the major road, do not let the learner driver emerge until it passes.

Traffic lights

If, whilst travelling across a traffic light junction, you become aware of an emergency vehicle approaching from either side, do not permit your learner driver to brake harshly. This may cause an accident. If the learner driver 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 allow the learner driver to brake harshly to allow that vehicle to enter the roundabout; there may be vehicle behind you that is unable to stop. If possible get the learner to reduce speed gently without causing danger to your vehicle or other road users to allow the emergency vehicle to enter the roundabout.

More vehicles

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

Double white lines

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 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.

Dual carriageway and motorway

Where emergency vehicles are travelling on dual-carriageways or motorways Learner 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, Learner drivers should signal their intentions and take care not to pull directly in front of a vehicle already in that lane.

Stationary traffic

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