Poll reveals confusion over laws for emergency service vehicles

12.00 | 31 October 2012 | | 4 comments

Drivers are confused about how they should behave to assist emergency service vehicles, according to the results of a poll by the IAM.

35% of respondents admitted that they don’t know the current rules on how to deal with an approaching emergency service vehicle, with a quarter of respondents saying they would go through a red light to let an emergency vehicle through (which is illegal).

44% of respondents said that it is unfair to prosecute someone who crosses a red light to let an emergency services vehicle through, with 31% saying should be made legal – but 41% believe that the law should not be changed.

86% of respondents thought it unfair that a driver should be fined for illegally entering a bus lane to let an emergency vehicle past.

Almost half of respondents agreed that traffic stopped at an incident should keep a lane space free for emergency service vehicles – an approach being trialled in Austria. Respondents to the poll also agreed that those who fail to get out of the way of an emergency vehicle should be fined.

Simon Best, IAM chief executive, said: “Fining people for pulling into empty bus lanes so that life-saving services can get through is just plain wrong.

“Most drivers quite rightly want to get out of the way. Simply catching and penalising drivers who break the rules to let emergency vehicles pass will not serve to educate them – people must understand the rules to abide by them.

“Road users must be on the look-out for emergency service vehicles and move out of the way where possible, but laws have been put in place for the safety of all road users. Our survey shows clear support for more clarity and new ways of ensuring police, fire and ambulance personnel get to incidents with maximum speed and minimum risk to themselves and others.”

For more information contact the IAM on 020 8996 9777.


Comment on this story

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Report a reader comment

Order by Latest first | Oldest first | Highest rated | Lowest rated

    The BBC News website has published an article which refers to drivers as ‘bad drivers’ if they do not make way for emergency vehicles, regardless of the situation – there is also a supposed quote from the DoT which implies the same and encourages drivers to break the law and back themselves up with CCTV footage:

    It’s no wonder most people are confused about how to react to an emergency vehicle…..

    Marge, Sussex
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Perhaps it is time to remind people of the ‘Blue Light Aware’ resource, a short video produced on behalf of the emergency services.

    Pat Bates
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Only Rule 219 deals with the approach of emergency vehicles and it does say that one should not break any laws. That said, I have seen drivers mount pavements and pass the white line against a stop sign at junctions.

    On the other hand I have seen ambulance drivers who have gone through lights too fast and without horns. I have seen them put horns on directly behind other vehicles and frighten the poor driver nearly to death. I saw a police officer approach a roundabout at speed well in excess of 30 mph and without siren, turn right against the flow of traffic on said roundabout.

    So it’s not just members of the public that need to know what to do in the event of meeting an emergency vehicle. It’s the drivers of those vehicles that need better training as well.

    bob craven Lancs
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    I am led to believe that it is illegal to break any traffic law, no matter how trivial, in order to allow an emergency vehicle with its lights and sirens on to go past.

    The only exception I know of is that people must obey the reasonable instructions of a police officer therefore if the driver of a marked police car signals to you, you can claim you were required by law to break the law.

    The reality is that most people would, for example, go through a red light (if safe) to allow an ambulance through. Laws can often be so bad that it’s good to see that most people do not simply obey the law, they assess which laws are sensible, and only obey those.

    Dave Finney – Slough
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.