Fleet News

Poll reveals motorists want rule change for emergency vehicles

Almost half of motorists believe that traffic stopped at an incident should keep a lane space free for emergency service vehicles, according to the latest poll by the IAM.  They also agree that those who fail to get out of the way of an emergency vehicle should be fined.  This approach is being trialled in Europe.

Thirty-five per cent of respondents admit that they don’t know the current rules on how to deal with an approaching emergency service vehicles. This is reflected in the results with a quarter of people saying they would go through a red light to let an emergency vehicle through which is illegal, and almost a third have entered a bus lane to allow access to an emergency vehicle which often results in fines.

Forty-four per cent of motorists believe that it is unfair to prosecute someone who crosses a red light to let an emergency services vehicle through. A further 31 per cent of people 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 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 people 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.”


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