Rules to remember when police, fire or ambulance need to pass you on the roads
Spotting the glare of blue flashing lights in your mirrors can be incredibly daunting for any driver, no matter how experienced they are.
Within a split second, motorists are forced to decide where to safely pull over, as well as making sure that it’s safe to pull away once the emergency vehicle has passed.
With the help of the emergency services and Highways England, road safety organisation GEM Motoring Assist has some advice aimed to help learner drivers and instructors on how to deal with blue light vehicles, reports Wales Online.
From Tuesday December 1, 10 animations that show how best to react in this nerve-wracking situation, will be posted online over 10 days.
GEM chief executive Neil Worth said: “We know that most people want to help a ‘blue light vehicle’ but that they can be taken by surprise and they don’t always understand what ‘doing the right thing’ is.
“We are confident that these videos will help learners become more confident because there will be less confusion in situations where an emergency vehicle needs their help. If confusion is reduced, then so is a risk.”
Stay calm and look for somewhere to pull in
It can be tempting to want to pull over wherever you are at the first sight of flashing lights, but stopping in the road with no way for an emergency vehicle to pass by you will only hold them up.
The best thing for you to do is to stay calm and look for a good place to pull in.
If you’re approaching a bend or the brow of a hill, keep going, because forcing an emergency vehicle to pass on the wrong side of the road when they can’t see what’s coming is very dangerous.
GEM suggests keeping out of bus lanes, not mounting kerbs, or stopping near traffic islands.
You should also not go through a red light to allow a vehicle past.
When approaching a roundabout
If you’re approaching a roundabout, make sure to keep an eye on the vehicle in your mirrors. Its lane position and indicators should tell you where it wants to go, so you can decide if you need to take action.
If you’re already stopped at the roundabout, move to the side if you can to give the emergency vehicle space to pass.
However, don’t drive into the roundabout if it is not safe to do so, and look around before moving off in case a second blue light vehicle is approaching.
On the motorway
In free-flowing traffic, move to the left when it is safe to do so. An emergency vehicle will only pass you on the right.
In stationary traffic, if there is a hard shoulder, it is likely emergency vehicles will use this to move past any traffic.
However, if there is no hard shoulder on a three-plus-lane road, drivers in the left and middle lanes should move left, and the rightmost lane should move right.
This creates what’s called an ’emergency corridor’ – a gap between the cars – for the flashing light vehicles to safely drive along. Keep the corridor in place even when vehicles have passed in case more are coming.
Remember, it is illegal to use a ‘red X’ lane on a smart motorway, so when you see these move over as soon as it is safe to do so, even if you can’t see an incident.
Emergency vehicles will use these lanes when safe to do so, and they create a safe barrier between motorists and an incident ahead.
Occasionally, police or motorway officers will put a ‘rolling roadblock’ in place.
This is when a motorway patrol vehicle or police car slows traffic – it will usually have its lights flashing and illuminated instructions such as ‘Don’t Pass’ in the rear window.
Follow the instructions and stay behind the vehicle, stopping safely if instructed to do so. The vehicle will pull to the left and indicate for you to pass when an incident has been cleared.