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Emergency Vehicles

The Highway Code offers little advice on the correct course of action to take upon seeing emergency vehicles travelling on an emergency call. This article provides guidance in order to improve understanding of the intentions of emergency vehicle drivers. Here are some dos and don'ts.

Emergency vehicles - kerbs
Kerbs
Do not mount kerbs to avoid emergency vehicles. You may damage your vehicles steering tyres, wheels, and suspension. Larger vehicles may damage the pavement. There is also a risk to pedestrians (diagram 1).
 
Obstructions
Do not stop opposite vehicles or obstructions if such positioning would not allow the emergency vehicle to pass (2)
Emergency vehicles - obstructions
 
Emergency vehicles - emerging from a side road
Emerging from side road
If you are about to emerge from a side road and see or hear an emergency vehicle on the major road, do not try to emerge until it passes (3).
 
Traffic lights
If, whilst travelling across a traffic light junction, you become aware of an emergency vehicle approaching from either side, do not brake harshly, This may cause an accident. if you cannot stop by gradual braking keep travelling across the junction. Emergency vehicles must give way to traffic crossing on the green lights (4).
Emergency vehicles - traffic lights
 

 

Emergency vehicles - roundabouts
Roundabouts
Similarly, if you are on a roundabout and see an emergency vehicle approaching, do not brake harshly to allow that vehicle to enter the roundabout, there may be a vehicle behind you that is unable to stop. If possible reduce speed gently without causing danger to yourself or other road users to allow the emergency vehicle to enter the roundabout (5).
 
More Emergency Vehicles
After one emergency vehicle has passed be aware that a second vehicle may be approaching. Check mirrors and listen for sirens. When there are two vehicles running towards the same incident, different types of sirens should be used to assist other road users to identify there is more than one vehicle (6).
Emergency vehicles - there may be more !
 
Emergency vehicles - double white lines
Double white lines
If an emergency vehicle is approaching from behind whilst you are travelling along a double white line system, where the line nearer to you is solid, maintain a safe speed and do not exceed the limit. The emergency vehicle will hang back from your vehicle and may even turn off some of the emergency equipment. If you see an obvious area to pull off the road signal your intention to do so. At the end of the white line system or where the lines change priority find a safe place to stop or slow down to allow the emergency vehicle to pass (7).
 
Dual carriageways & motorways
Where emergency vehicles are travelling on dual carriageways or motorways drivers in front should move to their nearside lanes. This will allow the emergency vehicle to use the outer lane. When moving into the nearside lanes, drivers should signal their intentions and take care not to pull directly in front of a vehicle already in that lane (8).
Emergency vehicles - dual carriageway
 

 

Emergency vehicles - stationary traffic
Stationary traffic
Where the traffic is stationary, or very slow moving on multi laned roads, the emergency vehicle may straddle the lane markings. Other road users should then move in the appropriate direction to facilitate its progress (9).
 

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