There are many things you can encounter on the road as a driver and many things to be aware of during every journey. One of these is encountering emergency vehicles on the road. Even seasoned drivers can run into dread at the sight of flashing lights, but following the below steps can help you to deal with any emergency road situation safely.
Step 1: Don’t Panic
The most important first step is to not treat an emergency vehicle as something to make you immediately swerve or slam on the brakes. While it’s important to move aside as quickly as possible, take your time to check that the way is clear and always signal your pull over or turn. Stay calm and move when you’re able to.
Step 2: Avoid Having Your Radio Too Loud
It’s always possible to hear an emergency vehicle’s siren before you spot them in your mirror, and it’s important to listen out for any vehicles. Having your radio too loud can obstruct your awareness, so be sure to have it at a comfortable volume which would allow you to still be able to hear other vehicles around you.
Step 3: Understand What Each Signal Means
Emergency vehicles aren’t always going to be immediately identifiable, as they may look like domestic vehicles. Usually, emergency vehicles will display a beacon or warning light to help you look out for them, and it’s helpful to understand what each color or beacon might mean so that you can understand what to watch out for.
You may encounter a car using green flashing beacons for an emergency doctor, blue flashing beacons for police and ambulances, and amber for slow-moving vehicles or anything which can cause an obstruction.
Step 4: Stay Legal
Emergency vehicles don’t mean that drivers are exempt from the law. While it can sometimes be difficult to comfortably move out of the way, especially at busy junctions or traffic lights, it’s still important to follow normal rules. This means avoiding going through any red lights, driving on the wrong side of the road, or venturing into restricted areas.
Step 5: Watch Other Drivers
Even if you react safely and calmly, there’s no guarantee that other drivers will have the same reaction. When making way for emergency vehicles, keep an eye out for other drivers close to you to avoid any collisions.
Step 6: Keep an Eye on Your Mirrors
This is standard driving practice anyway, but always making sure you’re checking mirrors will help you to notice any flashing lights in the distance ahead of time, even if you cannot hear any sirens yet.
Step 7: Stay Focused
Emergency vehicles may be attending to a large-scale emergency. Perhaps you’re faced with a large group of emergency vehicles all at once. It can be tempting to try and see what is going on but always focus on moving safely out of the way first, even if there is an accident site or emergency happening in your eye-line.
Dealing with emergency vehicles takes the same kind of focus, calm, and care as everyday driving does. What matters is remaining aware and knowing how to safely pull over.