You can be fined for moving out of the way of an ambulance, here’s how to stay safe and legal

You can be fined for moving out of the way of an ambulance, here’s how to stay safe and legal
When being caught up by an emergency vehicle, most drivers will follow their instinct to get out of the way as fast as possible.

But if you’re not careful, your best intentions could still see you hit with a hefty fine.

This is because road laws still apply in the event of encountering an emergency vehicle and you will still need to comply with relevant traffic signs.

Fixed penalty notices

Running a red light

Running a red light can still lead to a fine if you are moving out the way of an emergency service vehicle.

Examples that could see you be hit with a heavy fine include: entering a bus lane, stopping in a yellow box junction or driving through a red traffic light.

As CCTV cameras are increasingly being used to fine motorists for offences such as these – especially in city centres – the RAC is warning that getting out of the way for an ambulance, police car or fire engine won’t exempt you from paying fines.

As an example, you could be hit with a fixed penalty notice for £100 and three penalty points on your licence for jumping a red light – even if it’s at low speed to get out of the way of an emergency vehicle.

If it goes to court, the penalty could be even bigger.

The Highway Code

Ambulance stuck in road

The Highway Code states you should still comply with all traffic signs when encountering an emergency service vehicle

If you are approached by an emergency vehicle when driving, rule 219 of the Highway Code says: “You should look and listen for ambulances, fire engines, police, doctors or other emergency vehicles using flashing blue, red or green lights and sirens or flashing headlights, or Highways Agency Traffic Officer and Incident Support vehicles using flashing amber lights.

“When one approaches do not panic.

"Consider the route of such a vehicle and take appropriate action to let it pass, while complying with all traffic signs.

"If necessary, pull to the side of the road and stop, but try to avoid stopping before the brow of a hill, a bend or narrow section of road.

"Do not endanger yourself, other road users or pedestrians and avoid mounting the kerb.

"Do not brake harshly on approach to a junction or roundabout, as a following vehicle may not have the same view as you.”

Get 3 months FREE breakdown cover

Get 3 months FREE breakdown cover

With 12 months of cover, new customers get an extra 3 months for free*.

*Added after 12 months, excludes Basic cover. New customers only. Ends 16/12/23, 7am

Get 3 months FREE breakdown cover

So the key is not to panic and always stay alert when driving.

Resist temptation to stop in the middle of the road – this could block the route for the emergency vehicle – or to jump up the kerb.

Keep driving until there’s a suitable place to pull over and use your common sense to avoid coming into conflict with other road users.

It is important that people are aware of this advice so they can ensure they take the correct action when encountering an emergency services vehicle.

If people panic and do not obey traffic laws, this could result in an incident which could endanger more lives or further impede the emergency service from getting through. 

The issue of people taking the wrong action and then facing a fine is a common one and something our legal advice team regularly deal with.

If you are issued with a fine that you feel is unfair because you were getting out of the way for an emergency vehicle, you may be able to appeal it.

RAC Members are entitled to free advice and support through our 24/7 legal helpline.

Contact them on 0330 159 1446 to discuss this matter further.

While you shouldn’t break the rules of the road even in this situation, people have previously had fines waived for minor offences such as entering a bus lane to let a police car past.