Traffic Lights and Emergency Vehicles cause confusion


In a recent IAM poll, a quarter of drivers said they would go through a red light to let an emergency vehicle through even though this is illegal unless the vehicle is a police car.

Forty-four per cent of motorists believe that it is unfair to prosecute someone who crosses a red light to let an emergency vehicle through. A further 31 per cent of drivers feel that this should be made legal. But, overall the largest group of respondents (41 per cent) believe that the law should not be changed in regards to crossing red lights for emergency vehicles.

It is also illegal to enter a bus lane during its active hours of operation to let an emergency vehicle past, and you can be fined if you do. Eighty-six per cent of motorists believe that this is unfair.

Other results show:

  • 74 per cent of drivers will pull over where possible when they see an emergency vehicle approaching.
  • Half of motorists would not drive through a red light if an emergency vehicle approached them from behind.
  • 82 per cent of people are aware that it is illegal to cross a red light to let an emergency services vehicle past.

Findings reveal that, while most people are aware of the laws surrounding emergency vehicles, around half are willing to flout them to let the emergency services through.

IAM chief executive Simon Best said: “Fining people for pulling into empty bus lanes so that life-saving services can get through is just plain wrong.

“Most drivers quite rightly want to get out of the way. Simply catching and penalising drivers who break the rules to let emergency vehicles pass will not serve to educate them – people must understand the rules to abide by them.

“Road users must be on the look-out for emergency service vehicles and move out of the way where possible but laws have been put in place for the safety of all road users. Our survey shows clear support for more clarity and new ways of ensuring police, fire and ambulance personnel get to incidents with maximum speed and minimum risk to themselves and others.”

The HJUK view is that moving through a red light to allow any ‘blues and twos’ emergency vehicle through should immediately be legalised. It is ridicclous that drivers have to comply with the instructions of a uniformed police officer but cannot know if a vehicle approaching from behind is a police  car, an ambulancve or a fire engine until the vehicle itself is plainly in view.

IAM survey – Emergency services vehicles web poll – 2,506 respondents