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How to Appropriately React to Emergency Vehicles on the Road

23 March 2023

We’ve all been startled by flashing lights and a piercing siren behind us from an emergency vehicle. Nobody wants to hold up an emergency service vehicle, but what are the rules for letting them pass safely, and how should drivers react? Startin Group is here to advise:

As drivers, it's important that we know how to appropriately react when emergency vehicles are approaching us on the road. Not only is it the law, but it's also crucial for the safety of everyone involved. So, what should you do if you spot an emergency vehicle such as a police car, fire engine or ambulance is behind you?

If you see blue lights or hear a siren, though, it’s time to take safe and decisive action to get out of their path. We’ll walk you through how to do just that below.

Here are some tips on how to react to emergency vehicles:

  1. Pull Over: When you hear the siren or see the flashing lights of an emergency vehicle, pull over to the side of the road as quickly and safely as possible. Make sure you're leaving enough space for the vehicle to pass you. 

  2. Stay Calm: It's important to stay calm and not panic when an emergency vehicle is approaching. Keep in mind that the driver of the vehicle is trying to reach an emergency situation, and your cooperation can make a significant difference. Don't panic. Some drivers go running red lights and hastily mounting pavements in desperation to make a clear path for the emergency vehicle. So, keep your composure and ask yourself: Can the emergency car pass if I stop here? If not, can I lawfully move out of the way, and will my actions put other people in danger?

  3. Keep Clear: Once you've pulled over, make sure you stay clear of the emergency vehicle's path. Avoid blocking any intersections or driveways that the vehicle may need to use. It’s worth bearing in mind that often more than one emergency vehicle will be heading to the same scene, so be on the lookout for multiple vehicles heading in the same direction.

  4. Don't Follow: It's never a good idea to follow an emergency vehicle. Not only is it dangerous, but it's also illegal. Listen to the radio to listen out for updates such as the road ahead being closed. If you're trying to get somewhere, take a different route.

  5. Be Patient: Emergency situations can be stressful, but it's important to be patient and allow the emergency vehicles to pass. Remember that the safety of the people involved is the top priority.

Consider the route of the emergency 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 a narrow section of road.

Do not endanger yourself, other road users or pedestrians, and avoid mounting the kerb. Do not brake harshly.

By following these simple steps, you can help ensure the safety of everyone on the road, including the emergency responders themselves. Stay alert, stay safe, and stay informed!

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