Many people don’t realise that moving out of the way of an emergency vehicle can lead to a find if you do it incorrectly. So what is the correct way to move out of the way? First off, when you see blue lights flashing behind you or hear a siren, don’t panic. You actually aren’t legally obliged to move over for an emergency vehicle. However, the Highway Code states that you should ‘consider the route of such a vehicle and take appropriate action to let it pass, while complying with all traffic signs’.
What this means is you should let the vehicle pass but only do so if it is safe to do so and without breaking the law. If you run a red light, enter a bus lane or stop in a yellow box junction to make way for an emergency vehicle, you are still breaking the law.
The best thing to do is move to the side of the road and come to a controlled and slow stop, it is also best to indicate as this signals to other drivers and the emergency services what you are doing. If you stay stationary, the emergency vehicles will have to weave around you so it is often best to move and create a clear path.
The only time you should stay where you are is if there is a bus lane next to you. Do not move into the bus lane as the emergency vehicles will use this to get through to prevent traffic from having to move.
Vehicles with blue flashing lights such as, police cars and vans, ambulances and fire trucks to name a few, are exempt from many of the normal traffic regulations. This includes stopping at red lights, driving on the correct side of the road and keeping within the speed limit. However, vehicles with green emergency lights, doctors on emergency calls and Royal Park Estate Wardens, are not granted any special exemptions.
The official advice given is…
“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. When one approaches do not panic. Consider the route of such a vehicle and take appropriate action to let it pass, while complying with all traffic signs. If necessary, pull to the side of the road and stop, but try to avoid stopping before the brow of a hill, a bend or narrow section of road. 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.”
– Rule 219 (Emergency and Incident Support Vehicles) of the Highway Code