Giving way to emergency vehicles can save lives. It can also save you a lot of trouble in penalties and fines. That is why it is critical to watch out for that wailing siren when you are on the road!
Emergency vehicles respond to all kinds of incidents at any time of the night and day. Most of them are urgent, some are a matter of life and death. It is better for everyone to just make way and let them through. You never know the lives you can help save by simply doing so.
When you hear an emergency siren, do not panic. Sirens can be overwhelming. It has that freezing effect. Try to keep calm and be level-headed.
Emergency vehicles are classified as:
- Police cars
- Fire trucks and fire department vehicles
Here is some emergency vehicle etiquette that is worth remembering when you are on the road:
- When you hear an emergency siren approaching from behind you, SLOW DOWN. Assess if you can cross over the next lane to give way to the emergency vehicle. Do not make a sudden stop, you will cause an accident and delay the vehicle.
- If you are unable to give way because there is no room in other lanes due to heavy traffic, signal to the left and slowly maneuver to the left. Signal and let the other vehicles know that you are transferring to the next lane. With the blaring siren, it is highly likely that the other vehicles will know what you are trying to do. If it is impossible to do so, chances are, the emergency vehicle already knows and will find other ways.
- The default action to take when you have an ambulance or a fire truck approaching is to move left. If you cannot move left, slow down, stay in your lane and let the emergency vehicle overtake you.
- If you hear a police car approaching, slow down, move to the left and let them pass. If they stay behind you, signal to the left, slow down and find a safe place to stop and park. Wait for the uniformed personnel to approach you. Do not panic.
- When you are moving to give way to the emergency vehicle, always SIGNAL to indicate where you are going. This may sound simple but it can save everyone the confusion and a lot of time.
- Do not block the road or the pathway of the incoming emergency vehicle.
- Be aware of the other vehicles around you. It is important not to panic and maintain a clear mind so you can assess the situation and move accordingly. Look around you and be aware of the other vehicles including the emergency car.
- At intersections, do not run the red light if you have an emergency vehicle behind you. Go left and change lanes if possible. You can still be fined for running a red light even if there is an emergency vehicle behind you. Running a red light can only cause accidents which can make matters worse and cause even further delays the emergency vehicle.
- Do not ignore the sirens. By not taking action, you are preventing the vehicle from getting to their destination. You can cost someone their life or get in trouble with the law.
- Do not play loud music while on the road. Loud music can distract you and prevent you from hearing emergency sirens.
- Stay a good safe distance behind an emergency vehicle. It is recommended to stay 150 metres behind to give them enough wiggle room to maneuver traffic.
- Do not chase after emergency vehicles in the hopes of getting through traffic faster. You will only be putting yourself in danger as well as other road users.
It is paramount that everyone observes emergency road etiquette, road safety and responds to emergency sirens appropriately. Emergency responders put their lives at risk every day to help us. The best way we can help to stay out of the way and clear their path.
Stay Out Of The Way Safely And Legally
The existing road laws still apply even when encountering an emergency vehicle. You still need to comply with traffic rules and traffic lights.
You can be hit with a hefty fine if you are not careful. Driving out of the way of an ambulance, a fire truck, or a police car does not exempt you from paying traffic fines. Here are important things to remember:
- Do not stop in a yellow box junction
- Do not run a red light.
- Do not enter a bus lane
- Do not drive up on a footpath
Always stay alert when driving. Be aware of your surroundings, check your side mirrors and avoid any distractions.
By following a few simple rules, you get to help emergency responders get to their destinations faster and safer. By moving out of the way, you get to save lives and help your community.