How to let an ambulance through safely

Feb 27, 2023

BLA animation ambulance smart motorway emergency corridor

Road safety organisation GEM Motoring Assist has launched a set of tips for drivers to help keep them safe when making way for emergency vehicles.

The ‘Blue Light Aware’ tips are available as short animations and cover locations and situations where confusion can occur. These could be traffic light junctions, roundabouts, motorways without hard shoulders and stretches of road with solid white lines where overtaking is not allowed.

The advice, approved by the emergency services, outlines what to do and what not to do when helping an emergency vehicle.

“Every driver wants to help and do the right thing, but the approach of a blue light vehicle can take them by surprise,” said GEM chief executive Neil Worth said. “We hope that our tips will minimise confusion and reduce risk.”

At traffic lights
An ambulance won’t want you to go through a red traffic light. So don’t break the law or take any risks by moving past the light. If you’re first in the queue at a red light, stay where you are, and leave the ambulance to find its way around you.

Roundabouts and junctions
If you’re approaching a roundabout or a junction and you see an ambulance, look at its position, as this will let you know where it wants you to go. If you’re already AT the junction, be patient and wait for it to come past. There may be more than one emergency vehicle approaching the junction, so check before moving off.

Solid white lines
On a road with a solid white line system, an ambulance will probably switch off its siren as it follows you. This is because overtaking is not allowed. So keep going – at the speed limit if it’s safe – until you’re clear of the solid white lines. When the siren goes on again, that’s your cue to let the ambulance go past.

Motorways and dual carriageways
On motorways and dual carriageways, move to the left to allow an ambulance to pass in the outside lane if it’s clear. In slow and stationary traffic, emergency vehicles usually use the motorway hard shoulder, so you should only go onto the hard shoulder if you have an emergency of your own.

If there’s no hard shoulder, make way for emergency vehicles by creating an ‘emergency corridor’ (as shown in the picture). When you’ve let an emergency vehicle through, stay where you are, as other vehicles are likely to be coming through.

Smart motorways
On a smart motorway, one or more lanes may be closed because of an incident ahead – you’ll know because of red X signs above the carriageway. Emergency vehicles will use these lanes if they can. Keep out of these red X lanes. If no lanes appear to be closed, be prepared to help create the emergency corridor.


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