Emergency! Take a refresher on ‘red light’ etiquette

  • Simple rules to handle emergency traffic 
  • Get out of the way – but do it safely!
  • Stay there until all emergency vehicles pass
EMERGENCY ETIQUETTE: Keep well to the left – the emergency vehicle drivers know what they are doing. Image: GEM / Newspress

LONDON, England – British road-safety and breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist is encouraging all road users to be ‘Blue Light Aware’ and to know how to assist the emergency services vehicles when required.

(For South Africa, read flashing red lights – the blue lights are reserved for self-important idiots who figure they are above the folk who pay their inflated salaries and just want us out of the way.)

But it is still an offence to block their regal passage.


The UK call, where things are more civilised, comes as online views of its short video on the subject approach 400 000. WATCH the video here.

GEM road safety officer Neil Worth told Carman’s Corner in a media release: “We all want to help emergency service drivers and most of the time it’s just a simple case of pulling over to let them past.

“Yet we still need to ensure that anything we do as a driver is safe and legal.

EMERGENCY ETIQUETTE: Be alert – the emergency convoy could be coming from either direction. Image: GEM / Newspress

“We occasionally experience difficulties because we don’t know what’s expected of us. There is the risk that we could be putting ourselves or others in danger – or on the wrong side of the law.”


He said the video has details of how we can help at road junctions, on a freeway or on a road where overtaking is not permitted.

“It was produced in partnership with fire, police and ambulance services across the UK and is regularly reviewed by experts to ensure it still represents good practice.”

Since its launch in 2011, the ‘Blue Light Aware’ video has attracted 400 000 views on YouTube. In addition, most UK emergency service organisations have downloaded the video to use as part of their driver-training programmes and at public events.

GEM has five simple tips for drivers, each of which can apply to South Africa:

Stay safe and legal. Nobody expects you to put yourself at risk or break the law in an attempt to help an emergency vehicle.

Remain calm and observant. The earlier you spot an emergency vehicle, the more time you have to plan.

Don’t make judgements on which emergency vehicle(s) deserve your help and which don’t. Aim for a consistently thoughtful and courteous attitude that puts safety first in every situation.

If you slow down or stop, don’t move off or accelerate until the emergency vehicle has passed completely – there could be others following.

There may be more than one emergency vehicle coming, so listen for different sirens and look all round before moving off.


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