On a smart motorway, one or more lanes may be closed because of an incident ahead – you’ll know because of red X signs above the carriageway. Emergency vehicles will use these lanes if they can. Keep out of these red X lanes. If no lanes appear to be closed, you can help form what’s known as an emergency corridor, so be prepared to move to the right or the left.
At traffic lights emergency vehicles will find a way around you. If you’re first in the queue at a red light, stay where you are, and leave the emergency vehicle to find its way around you. Do not go past the stop line unless directed by a uniformed police officer.
Where to stop
If you hear a siren or see blue lights, stay calm. Look for somewhere safe to move left and stop. Keep going on the approach to a bend or on the brow of a hill – then pull over when there’s a better view ahead. Stay out of bus lanes, keep off kerbs and pavements, and don’t stop near traffic islands.
Highways authority and emergency vehicles occasionally stop in motorway and dual carriageway lanes, for example to protect stranded vehicles or to remove debris from the road. Watch for a red X gantry sign, or an instruction to move to another lane, and follow any signs displayed on the rear of the traffic vehicle.
Solid white lines
In a solid white line system, an emergency vehicle will probably switch off its siren as it follows you. This is because the road layout doesn’t allow for a safe overtaking opportunity. So keep going – at the speed limit if it’s safe – until you’re clear of the solid white lines. Your clue to pull left and let it pass is when its siren goes back on.
Roundabouts and junctions
If you’re approaching a roundabout or a junction and you see an emergency vehicle, look at its position, as this will let you know where it wants you to go. If you’re already at the junction, be patient and wait for it to come past. There may be more than one emergency vehicle, so check before moving off.
Slow down, move over
Motorway and dual carriageway breakdowns are distressing and potentially dangerous – for recovery operators as well as for occupants of stranded vehicles. If you see a stranded vehicle or a recovery taking place on the hard shoulder, please help those involved to stay safe by slowing down and moving to the right.
Motorways and dual carriageways
On motorways and dual carriageways, pull over to the left to allow an emergency vehicle to pass in the outside lane if it’s clear. If traffic is slowing or stationary and there is no lane for the emergency vehicle, its position will let you know whether to move to the right or the left. When you’ve let it through, stay where you are as other vehicles are likely to be coming through.
Emergency vehicles come in all shapes and sizes. So if you stop to let one through, make sure there’s a large enough gap. Check to see if there may be more than one emergency vehicle coming. And make sure whenever you park that you won’t be causing an obstruction that risks delaying an emergency vehicle.
Rolling road blocks
Rolling road blocks are used where necessary by police and highways authority vehicles if there’s an incident ahead. Stay behind these vehicles until they move left and the incident is over. Rest assured they’ll get you moving again as soon as it’s safe.
The GEM Road Safety Charity exists to contribute to improving the safety of all road users by providing financial assistance to support innovative road safety projects.
Driving for Better Business is a Highways England programme to raise awareness of the benefits that employers can achieve from managing work-related driving more effectively.
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