Emergency, fire engine coming!

Posted on September 1st, 2020 by GEM Motoring Assist

New information videos will help you stay safe and avoid unwanted penalties


Blue Light Aware


  • New, updated ‘Blue Light Aware’ resource includes 10 brand new short video animations covering situations where drivers can get confused
  • Devised in collaboration with the emergency services
  • Explanation of emergency corridor to create space on congested motorways
  • Smart motorway advice designed to ensure drivers don’t collect unwanted penalty notices for driving in ‘red x’ lanes


If you’ve ever been confused when trying to make way for an approaching fire engine, then help is at hand in the form of a brand new set of short video animations, developed jointly by GEM Motoring Assist and Driving for Better Business. Covering most of the situations where confusion can occur, the 10 animations provide simple-to-follow advice, approved by the emergency services, on what to do and what not to do when helping an emergency vehicle.


The animations will be rolled out on social media in coming weeks, and can also be accessed, along with the main video, via the Blue Light Aware website.


GEM chief executive Neil Worth commented: “The new animations follow extensive consultation with emergency services and Highways England. As well as encouraging as many road users as possible to take a look at them, we are pleased that student drivers from the fire, police and ambulance services will also be using the videos.


“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. We hope that these videos will encourage everyone to be more aware, which in turn will minimise confusion and reduce risk. It should also help to foster a greater spirit of understanding between the emergency services and the rest of us.”


Simon Turner, director of Driving for Better Business, 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. These short animations offer straightforward advice from familiar situations that we believe constitutes vital knowledge for all business drivers.


“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.”


One task for the Blue Light Aware producers has been to show how drivers can best help an emergency vehicle on a congested stretch of motorway where there is no hard shoulder. The video shows how to form an ‘emergency corridor’, where drivers in the outside lane move right, those in other lanes move left and everyone then stays in position. This will create enough space for emergency vehicles to make progress along the carriageway and provide assistance where it is needed.


Blue light driver survey


A recent survey1 invited drivers from fire, police, ambulance and other emergency services to identify what they believed were the highest-risk locations during their driving. Traffic light junctions (42%) represented the highest risk and the greatest levels of confusion, followed by stretches of road with double white lines (26%) and residential streets (24%).


Most respondents (57%) said that five or more of the emergency journeys they drove in a typical week would be delayed or compromised by the actions of another driver – the majority (57%) because they saw the emergency vehicle too late, leading to panic. More disturbingly, nearly 40 per cent of drivers appeared not to be aware of an emergency vehicle at all, while a small but stubborn cohort of 2.5% were aware of the emergency vehicle but chose to be deliberately obstructive.


Fewer than two per cent of respondents reported no delays in a typical week.


Asked which group of road users were generally the most helpful, emergency drivers said 88% of car drivers were either quite helpful or very helpful, compared with 83% of bus, coach and lorry drivers, 81% of pedestrians, 79% of motorcyclists, and 71% of cyclists.


Top of the emergency driver wish list was for other drivers to be more aware of what was going on (86%), to use mirrors (43%), to think before moving (40%), to avoid stopping in the middle of the road (35%) and near traffic islands (30%) and to use indicators when giving way (29%).


The survey was conducted during the autumn of 2019 among drivers from police, fire, ambulance and other emergency services. Feedback from the 943 respondents was used to inform the development of the new animations and the revised video.


The short animations:


1          Smart motorways

2          Traffic lights

3          Where to stop

4          Motorway breakdowns*

5          Double white lines

6          Roundabouts

7          Vehicle in the carriageway*

8          Motorways and dual carriageways

9          Rolling road blocks*

10        Leaving enough space


The main video:


  • Four minutes long
  • Includes information on where to stop, traffic lights, roundabouts and junctions, roads where overtaking is not allowed, motorways, smart motorways and dual carriageways


All videos and animations are available in English and Welsh.


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