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Can I drive over a red light to make way for an ambulance?

Can I drive over a red light to make way for an ambulance?

Updated Jul 10, 2021 at 10:15am

  • The siren sounds an emergency vehicle approaching: many drivers are not sure what to do at such moments.
  • We explain how to react correctly – and whether it is possible to violate traffic rules in an emergency situation.

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A frequent sight in the city: a blue light in the rearview mirror, a whistle in the ear – an ambulance rushing. Now it’s time to make a free run right away. According to road traffic regulations, road users are required to do so when the blue light and siren are on, Auto Club Europa (ACE) explains. The ACE provides the following information about the correct behavior:

  • If it’s clear where the car is coming from, you slow down and usually stick to the right edge. There you drive slowly or, if necessary, stop without blocking the road.
  • If the car does not pass the bottleneck, you have to drive to an alternative and wait there.
  • Don’t forget to blink when you run away in a controlled manner. This also helps others orient themselves.

If you don’t evacuate the train, you should expect at least €240, 2 points in Flensburg and a month’s driving ban. In the worst case scenario, wrong behavior can put human life at risk.

Where does the signal come from? First orient yourself, then act right

It is not always clear where the emergency car comes from if you only hear the siren. Hustle, noise and sudden braking are counterproductive. In the worst case, accidents can happen and the ambulance can be blocked.

So where does the signal come from? Where does the emergency car go? How many cars are used? How do others react in front of me and behind me? If they give way to the right, the car can come from the left. To steer, you can and should stop if the traffic situation permits.

If there are two or more lanes in one direction, an emergency lane (the left lane to the left, the other lane to the right) can also be useful in urban areas. “But you always have to orient yourself towards the surroundings,” says ACE’s Sören Heinze. “It doesn’t make sense for the rescue vehicle to slalom because some are swerving to the left and some to the right.”

On-site structural requirements also play a role. For example, when the area on the right is much larger than the area on the compound center line. “Emergency vehicles also sometimes use oncoming traffic to be faster,” Haynes says.

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It may also be helpful to go into the left lane or speed up, for example to quickly clear an intersection. However, the reaction must be appropriate to the situation according to traffic and local conditions.

In an emergency, drive over a red traffic light

In an emergency, according to ACE, you can break traffic rules, for example when traffic lights are red or driving faster than allowed. However, this only applies within narrow limits, i.e. only when there is no other way to clear the road and only when others are not endangered as a result. In addition, simply increase the speed for as long as necessary; If you have an alternative, you should use it and take your foot off the accelerator.

According to ACE, passing a red traffic light is usually not punished. However, it is advisable to take notes and note the emergency vehicle type, regulation and, ideally, the license plate as well. This can help if action must be taken against the fine. Emergency trips, which can be requested if needed, are documented, according to Autoclub.

Increased attention at the wheel is also required when emergency vehicles are over. If the cars lined up again at the same time, mutual attention is required. Another vehicle can always follow, which also requires space. (dpa/p)