The sound of a siren can be unnerving for motorists and pedestrians alike, but it can be especially alarming for learner drivers who are unsure of how to react in that situation and panic. There are a few things you can do in order to stop the appearance of emergency vehicles taking you be surprise when you are behind the wheel.
As in all situations; don’t panic! The drivers of emergency vehicles are specially trained, in a manner you are not, to manage these situations. It is simply your job to make it easier for them to carry this out.
Stay calm so you can quickly and sensibly judge what the best action to take is. If the sound of sirens does take you by surprise then according to SmartDriving.co.uk it is a sign that: “you have not been checking your mirrors nearly as often as you should be.” As the Highway Code states in rule 194: Emergency vehicles. You should look and listen for ambulances, fire engines, police or other emergency vehicles flashing blue, red or green lights, headlights or sirens. When one approaches do not panic. Consider the route of the emergency vehicle and take appropriate action to let it pass. If necessary, pull to the side of the road and stop, but do not endanger other road users.
It can also be harder in built up areas or if you are going at speed to hear emergency vehicles over engine noise until they are quite close. Using your mirrors and scanning the horizon for flashing blue lights means you give yourself every chance to spot emergency vehicle approaching. Then you are more prepared to create space for the emergency vehicle to pass. Of course you should be constantly assessing the road situation anyway! So this should be no problem.
Once you have worked out the route of the emergency vehicle be aware of other vehicles around you also planning to slow down or move out of the way around you. You need to be sure you won’t create an obstacle for the emergency vehicle.
As the Highway Code suggests, it is preferable to pull in to the side of the road and stop, make sure you signal so the emergency vehicle and surrounding traffic knows what you are planning. However in some cases this is not possible and you should always remain within the law. If you are on a one way street with no option to move in you should continue – keeping within the speed limit – until you have the opportunity to allow the emergency vehicle to pass. You cannot enter a bus lane or stop in a box junction in order to make room for an emergency vehicle and nor should you run a red light.
Keeping calm and making a good decision means the situation will be dealt with quickly. Once the emergency vehicle has gone by and you have checked there are none following you can continue safely with your journey.