How to deal with emergency services vehicles
Spending as much time as I do on the roads I see how people panic when having to deal with an emergency services vehicle so I thought I would write some hints and tips to help you. It may be that we encounter some during our lessons or it may not, unfortunately this is one of the unpredictable things that I can’t plan for. If you would like further information check out www.bluelightaware.org.uk which is designed to make the public more aware of ‘blue lights’ and how to deal with them.
Firstly, don’t panic! Check the road ahead and in your mirrors so you know where they are coming from. Sometimes it’s very hard to pinpoint the direction of the sirens. Reduce the noise in the car (e.g. turn off the radio) so you can hear the sirens better.
If you are approaching a junction or roundabout take extra care and be prepared to stop even if it is your priority.
If you need to pull over do so in a safe place where you will not obstruct the road or junctions. Pull as far left as possible if you are stopping but don’t mount the kerb. Give a signal so other road users know your intentions.
If you are on a multi-lane road ensure you are in the left hand lane to keep the right clear for them to overtake. If there is a live bus lane on your left don’t pull into it, they can use it to get past the traffic.
Even if the emergency vehicle is coming towards you rather than behind you may still need to pull over to create space between you and oncoming traffic so they can drive through the middle. Watch where drivers are stopping on the other side of the road so you don’t block the road.
When rejoining the flow of traffic be aware of other vehicles pulling into the space created by the emergency vehicle so check mirrors carefully and blind spot if you stopped completely.
When driving on a road with solid white lines they may switch off their sirens and stay behind you as they can only pass if you have completely stopped. Keep driving, at the speed limit if safe to do so until the lines become broken then you should expect them to pass you.
The driver of the vehicle may give you signals to inform you of their intentions so you can act accordingly. If it is a Police vehicle they may give you a signal because it is you they would like to pull over.
There may be more than one vehicle so listen out for different sirens.
Remember – not all emergency vehicles will be travelling in excess of the speed limit so don’t overtake them in case you get caught up in an incident they are attending.
Whatever you do must be safe and legal – don’t drive though red lights for example.