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British motorists could face fines up to £1,000 for letting an ambulance go past incorrectly. Drivers have been warned that they must remember to obey the usual driving laws when making way for an emergency vehicle.
While the Highway Code clearly states that road users must give way to an oncoming emergency vehicle, it also adds that some manoeuvres are illegal.
And, if motorists are not careful, they could be slapped with a £1,000 fine.
The illegal manoeuvres include driving onto a bus lane, running a red light, and entering a yellow box junction.
While it’s easy for road users to assume that they would be exempt from following those rules when an ambulance approaches, that is not the case.
Some offences may not only land drivers with a hefty fine but also with several points on their driving licence.
When approached by an emergency vehicle while driving, rule 219 of the Highway Code says: “You should look and listen for ambulances, fire engines, police, doctors or other emergency vehicles using flashing blue, red or green lights and sirens or flashing headlights, or Highways Agency Traffic Officer and Incident Support vehicles using flashing amber lights.
“When one approaches do not panic. Consider the route of such a vehicle and take appropriate action to let it pass, while complying with all traffic signs.
“If necessary, pull to the side of the road and stop, but try to avoid stopping before the brow of a hill, a bend or narrow section of road.
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“Do not endanger yourself, other road users, or pedestrians, and avoid mounting the kerb.
“Do not brake harshly on approach to a junction or roundabout, as a following vehicle may not have the same view as you.”
The RAC also urged drivers to resist the temptation to stop in the middle of the road.
By stopping in the middle drivers could block the route for the emergency vehicle.
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The RAC experts added: “Keep driving until there’s a suitable place to pull over and use your common sense to avoid coming into conflict with other road users.
“It is important that people are aware of this advice so they can ensure they take the correct action when encountering an emergency services vehicle.
“If people panic and do not obey traffic laws, this could result in an incident which could endanger more lives or further impede the emergency service from getting through.
“The issue of people taking the wrong action and then facing a fine is a common one and something our legal advice team regularly deal with.
“If you are issued with a fine that you feel is unfair because you were getting out of the way for an emergency vehicle, you may be able to appeal it.”
The experts also warned that a lack of awareness of the correct driving rules when allowing emergency services to pass could result in dangerous incidents and block people from the urgent help they need.
On top of that, as CCTV cameras are increasingly being used to fine motorists for offences such as these – especially in city centres – the RAC is warning that getting out of the way for an ambulance, police car or fire engine won’t exempt drivers from paying fines.
As an example, motorists could be hit with a fixed penalty notice for £100 and three penalty points on their licence for jumping a red light – even if it’s at low speed to get out of the way of an emergency vehicle.
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