Knowing what to do if an emergency vehicle approaches is a must for any new driver. If you have an Approved Driving Instructor, such as those at South London Driving School, they should have told you everything you need to do when an emergency vehicle approaches – Especially if you live in a densely populated area of London, or any other city in the UK. However, if you haven’t got to that part of your course yet, or you’re just wondering what to do when you see those flashing blue lights in your rear-view mirror, look no further.
You should always be aware of your surroundings while driving. Effective observation is an important part of driving safely, and a big part of that is being aware of emergency vehicles. Emergency vehicles are just like any other vehicle on the road. However, when they have their emergency lights and/or sirens running they have priority and you should always give way to them – As you never know when they are responding to a true life or death situation.
Always keep a look out for blue lights in your field of view, and in your mirrors, and ensure any music or other sounds in your car are kept quiet enough to allow you to hear emergency sirens as they approach your location. The moment you hear the sound of sirens, or see emergency lights approach you, it’s important for you to anticipate their direction of travel and take action that will allow them to pass you if its safe to do so.
If you see an emergency vehicle with lights and sirens on approaching you, do not panic. It’s important to keep your wits about you to ensure you don’t take any action that could slow the fire truck/police car/ambulance down.
Do not slam on the brakes when you see the emergency vehicle approaching, and do not attempt to break the speed limit in an attempt to make room for the vehicle. The drivers of emergency vehicles have special training that allows them to safely and legally circumvent the normal rules of the road. However, you do not share that privilege; so while you should always give way to emergency vehicles as they approach you should not recklessly run any red lights or veer into oncoming traffic just to let the emergency vehicle pass.
If you can safely pull over to the side of the road or move into the leftmost lane of the road you should do so. However, always remember to use your indicators to tell other road users and the emergency vehicle of your intentions.
If you are about to enter a junction, or turn from a side road onto a main road, stay where you are until the emergency vehicle passes – Even if you have a green light.
On a motorway, if you see an emergency vehicle approaching you should pull into the leftmost lane if it is safe to do so. However, if the emergency vehicle is using the hard shoulder to pass traffic you should give it as much space as possible, and indicate and move into the middle or rightmost lane if it is safe to do so.
This is just a short primer on what to do when an emergency vehicle approaches your car. If you’re ever unsure of what to do during a driving lesson, do not hesitate to bring it up with you driving instructor, who will be more than happy to teach you the best course of action for any given scenario.