Most drivers don’t realise that they can incur fines for not moving out the way of emergency services vehicles. Many are also unaware that overzealous local authorities are ready and willing to fine them if they move out of the way and end up somewhere they shouldn’t.
This week, GEM Motoring has launched its Blue Light Aware campaign to highlight how to make way for emergency services safely and effectively – and without doing something that will result in a fine.
Local authorities can fine you up to £60 if you enter a bus lane to get out of the way of an emergency vehicle (falling to £30 if you pay within 14 days). In addition, some London councils can charge a whopping £130 for driving through a red light or moving into a box junction to let an ambulance or other emergency services vehicle past.
Councils usually issue these fines based on CCTV camera images, although it is not unheard of for the emergency services to take down an offending vehicle’s registration. GEM highlights that appealing a traffic violation using moving aside for emergency services as your defence is unlikely to get you very far.
Are fines a deterrent?
Interestingly, a survey of 18,000 AA members in 2015 suggests that the threat of a fine doesn’t deter most motorists. In fact, only 13% would refuse to enter a yellow box junction to allow rescue services past.
The survey also found that 48% of drivers would happily run a red light and 31% would be willing to exceed the speed limit to aid emergency services, despite laying themselves open to potential police prosecution.
Additionally, 39% of drivers said they weren’t concerned about being penalised if it helped someone in distress. This involves “not worrying” about bus lanes, red lights, box junctions, speed limits, or pulling on to a pavement to let emergency crews past.
In the GEM Blue Light Aware campaign video (see below), GEM states that motorists should strive to avoid bus lanes, red lights, sudden braking, pulling over onto pavements and pulling over in spaces where it isn’t safe or legal to do so:
“It’s much better to let emergency services find their own way around us. Leave the bus lanes and red traffic lights to them.”
Although many of us struggle to stay calm when we hear a siren approaching, the Highway Code states that you should not panic and should consider the best route for the vehicle to take before acting. It goes on to say that you should not “endanger yourself, other road users or pedestrians and avoid mounting the kerb at all costs.”
It seems clear to us that the current system leaves motorists with no perfect option: either don’t pull over and risk delaying the emergency services (which are potentially on the way to save someone’s life) or pull over (potentially endangering the lives of yourself and others around you) and risk incurring a fine.
Would you risk a fine to stay where you are and obstruct emergency services, or move aside and risk a fine for breaking traffic rules? Let us know in the comments below.