What to do if you encounter an emergency vehicle...



GEM Video - Blue light Aware

Gem Motoring assist Solid Motoring advice

Letting emergency vehicles pass by could mean you're breaking the law
You could be putting yourselves and others in danger

We all try to do the right thing by moving out of the way when we hear sirens or see the flashing lights of police cars, ambulances and fire engines.

But people are now being warned they could in fact be breaking the law when allowing emergency service vehicles to pass by.

The Highway Code says drivers must not break the law when making room for emergency vehicles.

Letting them through could help to save a life, but doing so illegally could put yourself and other motorists and pedestrians in unnecessary danger.

So what's the right thing to do?

What does the Highway Code say?

The first point of reference for road users is the Highway Code and rule 219 lists all the dos and don'ts for when emergency vehicles are coming.

It 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."

But if you do encounter one, the code says say you shouldn't panic and need to first consider the route of the vehicle to take appropriate action.

Drivers should comply with all traffic signs


If you need to stop, the code suggests stopping before the brow of a hill, a bend or a narrow section of the road.

The code also says: “Do not endanger yourself, other road users or pedestrians and avoid mounting the kerb.

“Do not brake harshly on approach to a junction or roundabout, as a following vehicle may not have the same view as you."

Don't break the law

Advice online says you obviously shouldn't break the law to make way for an approaching police car, fire crew or ambulance. This includes entering bus lanes or running red lights.

It goes without saying that you shouldn't try to speed or outrun an emergency vehicle, and you should only allow the emergency vehicle to overtake when there's space to do so and it's safe.

If you're in a one-way street or a road where the other lane is blocked, you should continue at a reasonable speed as the emergency vehicle follows until you can pull over.

Chief executive of GEM Motoring Assist breakdown company, David Williams, said: "The difficulties come because it is not always clear what they are expected to do in order to provide the best help.

"As a result, too many members of the public are putting themselves in danger, breaking the law or risking damage to their cars while trying to assist an emergency vehicle on a blue light run.

"Emergency service drivers make 'blue light' journeys because someone needs their immediate help. We in turn can help them by giving them the room they need.

"In so doing, we maybe well be helping to save a life."

Avoid the hard shoulder

When driving on a motorway, emergency services are likely to use the hard shoulder if lanes are slow moving, so don't use the lane, but instead pull over to the inside to wait for the emergency vehicle to pass.

Of course, many drivers will be ignore the above and break the rules in order to let an emergency vehicle pass more quickly as it makes its way to the incident, but it's worth remembering that you are still liable for any offences committed.

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