Emergency Vehicles: Here’s How To Safely Move Over

Drivers of emergency vehicles are exempt from some of the rules of the Highway Code. Here’s what you need to know…

Emergency Vehicles

When we hear sirens on the road, we instinctively know that we’re probably going to have to move out of the way – and quickly. Even for particularly capable drivers, this can be a tad stressful. Knowing what emergency vehicles can do, and how best to give them space, can make everything much more straightforward. Here’s what you need to know…


Drivers of ambulances, fire engines and police vehicles are exempt from some of the rules in the Highway Code. For instance, Section 87 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 makes it clear that they can disregard speed limits in the event of an emergency. In addition, they’re able to pass on the wrong side of a ‘keep left’ sign; not to mention treating red traffic lights as ‘give way’ signs.

Nevertheless, each driver has to be able to justify their actions. Disregarding rules without a good reason can lead to prosecution for dangerous driving.

What To Do When You Hear Sirens 

When you hear sirens on the road, the last thing you want to do is to allow anxiety to determine how you react. Don’t come to a sudden stop by slamming your brakes. Doing so just raises the prospect of causing an accident. In addition, coming to a stop in the middle of road won’t help anyone.

Check to see whether the emergency vehicle is, in fact, coming from behind you. If it is, gently slow down and gradually pull over to the side of the road. If you’re already at a junction or a roundabout, wait to see which direction the emergency vehicle is going. It’s also important to recognise that there may be more than one vehicle looking to pass you.

What If There’s Nowhere Safe To Stop?

Naturally, it might not always be safe to come to a stop when you hear sirens. You shouldn’t, for instance, come to a stop on the brow of a steep hill or on a sharp bend; for fairly obvious reasons. If possible, you should also try to avoid mounting a kerb or stopping in a bus lane.

If you’re on a road marked with solid white lines, the emergency vehicle behind you will likely turn their sirens off until the lines end; allowing them to safely overtake. In the meantime, drive safely and at an appropriate speed – mindful of the fact that the vehicle may attempt to overtake you.

Finally, if you’re at a red traffic light (and there’s nowhere to move aside) you should wait for it to change. Rule 219 of the Highway Code stipulates that drivers should comply with road signs and signals when allowing emergency vehicles to pass. It’s likely the emergency vehicle behind you will turn their sirens off until the light changes – so no need to put yourself at risk.

Highways England To Become National Highways Following Name Change – https://autoserveclub.co.uk/blog/highways-england-to-become-national-highways-following-name-change/

The Government Is Now Funding Hydrogen Vehicle Trials – https://autoserve.co.uk/motoring-news/the-government-is-now-funding-hydrogen-vehicle-trials/

The Autoserve Club can save you time, money and stress. Club Members can receive discounts on servicing and new tyres and will gain access to our professional 24/7 helpline. To learn more, contact our friendly Service Advisers on 0121 521 3500 today.

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