Drivers ‘caught by surprise’ by emergency vehicles as thousands risk £5,000 fine

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Drivers could face heavy charges for not moving out the way of an emergency vehicle and risk delaying the journey to a patient. A recent survey by emergency service drivers has shockingly revealed that over half of their trips are delayed by road users which means thousands of road users risk penalties.

A total of 57 percent of respondents said that five or more of the emergency journeys they had driven in a typical week were delayed or compromised by another driver.

A further 57 percent of these were because the driver saw the emergency vehicle too late which led them to panic.

Almost 40 percent reported that road users appeared to not be aware an emergency vehicle was approaching them at all.

In a further horrifying revelation, 2.5 percent were fully aware an emergency vehicle was behind but chose to deliberately obstruct its path.

Fewer than two percent reported no delays by motorists during a typical week.

GEM Chief Executive Neil Worth warned blue light vehicles were surprising drivers in a major risk.

He said: “Our survey shows that in general the vast majority of people want to help and do the right thing, but the approach of a blue light vehicle can take them by surprise.”

The Highway Code says drivers should not panic when an emergency vehicle is close by and should take “appropriate action” to let it past.

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Failing to do this could lead to drivers being issued a charge for careless driving or driving without due care and attention.

But in a shocking twist, motorists can also break the law and face penalties if they do move out the way for emergency vehicles.

This is because ordinary road rules still apply meaning motorists who cross a red light or move into a yellow box junction can still be penalised for careless driving.

This charge could see road users issued a fixed penalty notice for a £100 fine and three penalty points on their driving licence.

However, in severe cases, drivers could be sent to court where maximum penalties can rise to a £5,000 fine and up to nine penalty points.

The survey revealed that traffic light junctions were the highest risk location with 42 percent revealing drivers were often confused on how to react to emergency vehicles in these areas.

Stretches of the road with double white lines also caused confusion with 26 percent reporting issues.

A total of 86 percent of emergency service drivers wished motorists were more aware of what was going on around them.

A massive 43 percent said they wished drivers would use their mirrors more with 40 percent hoping drivers thought more before moving.

Simon Turner, Director of Driving for Better Business said commuters were likely to encounter emergency services vehicles on the road.

He has urged motorists to react early to vehicles and minimise delay or risk when on the road.

He said: “People driving for work tend to do more miles than any other road user, so they are likely to encounter blue light vehicles more often.

“If we are better able to understand what emergency drivers want us to do – and what they want us not to do – then we will be much better placed to react early to their presence and minimise any delay or risk.”

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