blue-light-sirenI’ve travelled a fair bit across our globe and one of the nosiest countries I’ve encountered so far for emergency vehicle sirens, is the UK.

Have you ever wondered what to do when driving and suddenly you hear a police car, ambulance or any other emergency vehicle coming towards you. I know my first instinct is to look in all directions, including my rear view mirror, to see exactly where it is coming from. Then I feel a slight anxiety about my next step.

What do you do and how do you feel?

My husband, a former driving instructor, has recently become a student paramedic and one month of his initial training was spent on blue light driving. Talking with him has helped me to understand exactly why the emergency services use sirens. What drivers need to do and how we should react on hearing them.

Why do the emergency services use sirens?

To alert people of their presence. If you listen as an emergency vehicle approaches, you will hear that it uses a long wailing tone when further away, as it gets closer it changes to a faster and shorter tone which is a yelp or there is peircer tone, which is generally used to notify you where a vehicle is coming from.

Doesn’t everybody automatically become aware of a siren?

The answer to this is NO. Part of the driver training in the ambulance service, enables staff to understand ‘the moment of realisation.’ This is where some vehicle users on the road don’t realise that an emergency vehicle is behind them, until it is upon them. The emergency service personnel, will be looking for driver recognition, whether it be moving out of the way or slowing down. Some drivers panic because they don’t know what to do, absorbed in their little worlds within the car, sometimes driving in an automatic mode.

What should you do if an emergency vehicle is approaching with lights or sirens?

  1. Check your mirrors and all around you, to see where it is coming from
  3. Safely assess your surrounding road area to see if you need to move out of its way, keeping to mind other vehicle users and pedestrians.
  4. If you are the front vehicle at a red light, then you have to make the decision, whether or not to cross the white line. If you do this, you are still breaking the law. If there is a traffic signal camera and it flashes, you will still receive a ticket and have to contest it.
  5. The emergency personnel are trained to not intimidate and force other drivers through red lights or out of their way.

Speak to your A Pass 4 U Driving Instructor about the best way to handle a situation when an emergency vehicles appear and they will advise the best course of action and take you through the process on your driving lessons.