Picture the scenario; you are in your car, stuck at the front of a long line of traffic, waiting for the light to turn green, when suddenly, flashing lights appear behind you, sirens screaming and urging all drivers to clear a path immediately. You have a choice, you can either remain stationary, and allow this ambulance, police car, or fire tender to pass it’s in own time, or you can make the split-second decision to move to allow the emergency vehicle safe passage. What do you do?
Recent surveys have shown that almost half of all UK motorists believe that in the event of traffic being stopped due to an emergency, a lane should be kept free to allow emergency vehicles to pass or to access the emergency without delays. Most also tended to agree with trial runs being tested in Europe, whereby drivers can be fined for remaining in the way of an emergency vehicle.
Over a third of those questioned admitted to not being fully aware on the rules regarding emergency vehicles, with 1 in three willing to break laws to allow ambulances and police cars to pass, such as by going through a red light or entering a bus lane – despite both of these courses of action remaining illegal, even in these circumstances.
Almost half of drivers involved in the survey consider it unfair to prosecute a driver for breaking a law to allow an emergency vehicle to pass. In some cases, after receiving a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) the charge can be waived under extreme circumstances when the relevant authority can confirm that the vehicle in question was indeed in the area at this time en route to attending an emergency.
When it comes to going through a red light to allow the emergency vehicle to pass, motorists seem to be split down the middle, with half refusing to cross a red light under any circumstances, whilst another half are willing to flout this rule – despite a massive 82% aware that this is still illegal.
The recommended actions to take in this situation are as follows:
– Move wherever possible, without breaking a law. If you can switch lanes to allow an emergency vehicle to pass, or if you can pull over safely after indicating, without danger of causing harm to yourself or any other motorists, then do so.
– Never enter a bus lane or cross on a red light, under any circumstances. Not only is this illegal regardless of the circumstance, it is also highly dangerous. Don’t open yourself up to unnecessary danger or prosecution – move only when safe and legal to do so.
– Remember, these are professionals. Drivers of emergency vehicles are given authorisation to ignore rules when necessary, such as travelling above the speed limit and crossing on red lights, and they are given this authorisation to do this so you don’t have to.
Stay alert for emergency vehicles, and stay safe. Try not to obstruct them when possible (how would you feel if it was your loved ones in need of the emergency services?), but above all stay safe – otherwise it might end up being you who needs their services.
Safe driving from Britannia!
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