What to Do If You See the Flashing Lights of an Emergency Vehicle in Your Rear Mirror

There is no feeling quite like the one you get when you hear a wailing siren and look up to see flashing blue lights in your rear view mirror. The initial panic that you are about to get pulled over can make your driving erratic even if, as in most cases, the emergency vehicle simply wants to get by.

The police, fire service and ambulance are all permitted to use blue flashing lights and sirens when reacting to an emergency situation, they are also allowed to break certain road regulations and speed limits, including driving through red lights if the circumstances dictate. Other services are also permitted to use flashing blue lights including coastguard, mountain rescue bomb disposal and medical transplant services. Additionally a doctor answering an emergency call will use flashing green lights.

When you first see the blue flashing lights you must override the feeling of panic and stay calm, in most cases the emergency vehicle will just want to get past as quickly, safely and smoothly as possible. Avoid the temptation to slam on the brakes and pull up on the curb, instead look ahead for a safe spot to pull over and then indicate so the following driver knows what you are doing.

Once the emergency vehicle has passed you by, resist the temptation to pull straight back out again, as it is possible that the emergency may require several vehicles and so other emergency services may also be following closely behind. Once they have passed take a few moments to reassess the traffic situation before pulling back out as the event may have left other roads users slightly alarmed or confused.

Often you will hear the siren before you see the emergency vehicle, and although siren technology has advanced beyond the basic two tone siren, it can still be difficult to locate where the sound is coming from. If this occurs at a junction then take extra time to try and locate the source of the sound before proceeding.

If you are being followed by a police car which requires you to stop, then they will normally do so by flashing their car headlight bulbs, indicating and pointing to you to pull over to the left. Remember you must still find a safe place to pull over and once stopped you should switch off the engine. Remain calm and courteous to the police officer at all times and be prepared to produce your driver's license, certificate of insurance and any other relevant motoring documents.

Alongside the Police patrol cars you may now also see the Highways Agency Traffic Officers on motorways. Often their vehicles can be confused for police cars as they have similar reflective markings and blue lights on the roof. Remember, whilst a Traffic Officer cannot charge you with any motoring offenses, including speeding, it is an offence not to comply with their directions.

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