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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just been reading August's Auto Express, and found this article quite interesting.

This was writen by Ray Massey, Motoring editor for the Daily Mail.

Here's the scenario.You are waiting at a set of traffic lights on red-or perhaps on a narrow stretch of road next to a wide bus lane. Suddenly, you hear behind you the wail of an ambulance or fire engine siren. A potential life or death 999 emergency is underway. Every second counts. What do you do?
Instinct and commen sense tell you to move out the way to let them through. Well, you'd be wrong, according to the authorities. The correct thing to do is nothing. Just sit there, block the emergency vehicles and let them work out how best to get round you.
If you attempt to use some discreption and give emergency vehicles space, you could be in trouble. Nudge over the red lights and you'll get a fine, plus three points on your licence. Move on to a yellow box and the cameras will nab you, in london at least. Pull into a bus lane to give them room to manoeuvre, and you'll get a £100 fixed penalty.
It seems mitigating circumstances cut no ice. No excuses will be accepted. Your in the wrong, so you must take your punishment. The law, after all, is the law. Think i'm making it up? Take the case of railway worker Mark Freeman, 36, from Doncaster. He thought he was doing his duty when pulled over to let an ambulance on a 999 call pass. The manoeuvre took him through a red light, and a camera snapped him. But the South Yorkshire Safety Camera Partnership and local magistrates were having none of it.
Result? A £60 fine, a £35 bill for costs, three points on his licence and £300 lost wages for time spent on three court appearances. Mr Freeman said he was "disgusted", adding: "if someone was ill or dying and i stopped the ambulance, would i be held responsible?"
The RAC Foundation's Kevin Delaney, a former head of traffic policing at the Metropolitan Police, said the law was "unequivocal" and that "regretfully" he advises any motorist not to pass a red light to allow an energency vehicle through unless and untill the law is changed. So next time there's a police car behind you, demanding to get past, and your faced with pulling into a bus lane, nudging into a yellow box or committing a red light offence, the official advice is "do nothing".
The rise of 'robocop' is bringing with it the death of discretion. Yet nothing infuriates the authorites more than when the tables are turned, and the inflexible 'letter of the law' is used against them. Just look at the reaction of the Wiltshire and Swindon Road Safety Partnership to the victory of 4,300 motorists who had their speed camera convictions overturned after the Crown Proecution Service admitted there was a lack of evidence.
Victims were filmed exceeding a 40mph limit at an improperly signed set of roadworks on the A303 at aptly named Folly Bottom, Wiltshire. The red-faced partnership faces a bill of around £1million. Yet in flagrant violation of the British principle that people are innocent until proven guilty, it continued to insist that the drivers really were guilty but had "got off on a technicality". Perhaps the authorities need reminding that the law is the law and applies just as much to them, with or without discretion.
 

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As a motorist you are not obliged to move over for emergency vehicles even when blue lights are flashing and sirens wailing, I don't think most motorists are aware of this fact.
My 1980s copy of the highway code says that you pull over when it is safe to do so, but I do have this feeling that the police might sometimes pull a fast one and pull you for obstruction even though they have no right in law to demand that you pull out of their way....
Unfortunately I got in the way of a traffic cop about 3 years ago. He said he was tracking a speeding motorist, while monitoring a car I was passing, at 100+ and I had the nerve to pull out in front of him. He was alone and the speed tracking device was in front of the passenger seat (makes him a woman's ideal man - a multitasker ), threatened me with careless driving, I bit my tongue several times. Then he left for his tea break......
 

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Just the sort of Traffic Policeman that give them a bad name!

Just checked the Highway Code on-line and this is what it has to say about Emergency Vehicles (with section titles):
Situations needing extra care
29: Emergency vehicles. If an ambulance, fire engine, police or other emergency vehicle approaches using flashing blue lights, headlights and/or sirens, keep off the road.

Other vehicles
194: Emergency vehicles. You should look and listen for ambulances, fire engines, police or other emergency vehicles using 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.
That makes the fines for doing what the Highway Code says scandalous
 

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Yes, but if the quotes from the Highway Code are correct in the post above yours, then you wouldn't necessarily be breaking the law by moving from stationary through a red light to let an emergency vehicle through. The language used is sufficiently vague to allow courts to apply an "each case turns on it's own merits" argument.

Nothing is ever black and white in law - shame in some ways, interpretation would be easier. "Take the appropriate action to let it pass" may well mean moving through a red light - think of a one way one lane street with an emergency vehicle directly behind you.
 

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Consider a case where a person moves forward through the red traffic light (to allow the emergency vehicle to pass) and there is a collision with someone passing through the traffic lights in the direction they are cleared for. What would everyone think then?
I'm not saying I would not pass the lights at Red, but I do not believe that the law allows any lieniency for such cases, whether or not a collision results.
Nick.
 

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I thought that this would be where mittigating circumstances come in. We must have all read stories in the press where someone had clearly broken the Road Traffic Act but the court exercised its discretion and dealt with a matter leniently?

Mike
 

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for example that guy who was let off speading well over 100 mph on the motorway because he was "learning the limits of the car"???????

wasn't he a traffic warden or something?
 

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[ QUOTE ]
for example that guy who was let off speading well over 100 mph on the motorway because he was "learning the limits of the car"???????

wasn't he a traffic warden or something?

[/ QUOTE ]

I think it was his 80+ in a 30 zone antics that got most people's goats

I think if I were ever in a position where I was holding up an ambulance or fire engine at a red light, I would attempt to get out of their way, with due care & attention to other traffic that has right of way. Of course you're not going to pull out into oncoming traffic, but if you can carefully squeeze out of the way, in the knowledge that the blue lights & siren will be making the oncoming traffic slow down/stop, I think it's quite safe and if I had to argue it in court I would. If I lost, well that's because the law is indeed an ass, but I'd give it a crack.
 

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yeah, I couldn't remember the stats.
It's funny because yesterday morning on the way to work as I was idling in traffic leading up to a roundabout I heard a siren coming up behind me. I didn't even think about it, just pulled to the left a bit to give the ambulance more room as did everyone else.

about a month ago though, I was driving on a ring road, had the stereo on - not blasting but loud enough to block some outside noise. went round a roundabout and as I was pulling off I caught a glimpse of something to my right. looked over and there's an ambulance with the lights on coming the wrong way round the rounder and crossing my path. I nearly hit the thing, and I wonder what would have happened in court if I did it was close.
 

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[ QUOTE ]
"Take the appropriate action to let it pass" may well mean moving through a red light

[/ QUOTE ]
That's your interpretation. An interpretation that takes the law into account would say that the appropriate action would be to wait for the light to change, then move off and pul over at the first safe and legal opportunity.

As you say, a matter of interpretation. I still say the quoted Highway Code paragraphs do not contradict the law unless you want to interpret them to do so. My understanding is that the law takes precedence in any interpretation of the Highway Code.
 

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I'd always understood that the emergency services do not have the right per se to "ignore" red lights- they are still obliged to follow the rules of the road. If an incident were to occur as a result of them "ignoring" a red light etc then it is likely that the driver would be prosecuted. Remember the sirens and lights are really there to make you more aware of their presence, and move out of their way if it is safe to do so.
 

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I'm sure there was a case on the news recently where the driver of a fire engine had been prosecuted for causing an accident at a set of traffic lights. Apparently he ran a red light and ran into a car coming through the green light from the right.
 

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I agree with Billj that you must obey the law and that the law takes precedence over the Highway Code.
So I'll be safe and legal while trying to let any emergency vehicle pass but not entering a bus lane, crossing a double white line, going through a red (or amber) light.
Phew!
I believe that the policeman, PC Milton had been on trial for driving at up to 159mph on the M54 near Telford, and the magistrate acquitted him on the grounds that "he needed to practise his driving."
 

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[ QUOTE ]
So I'll be safe and legal while trying to let any emergency vehicle pass but not entering a bus lane, crossing a double white line, going through a red (or amber) light.

[/ QUOTE ]
I understand the sentiment behind your response and I know it might sound daft, but the law and the Highway Code are intended to remove any ambiguity and subjectivity from driving so that every driver obeying the rules behaves in a predictable manner, making for better traffic flow and safety. Emergency vehicle drivers are specially trained and should be much better than the average driver. For this reason, they are (unofficially, as far as I know) given some leeway and allowed to exercise some discretion with regard to certain regulations and Highway Code guidelines. In contrast, many "normal" drivers have neither the experience nor the skill to make safe subjective decisions if allowed to step outside the rules in certain situations.

Contrary to what was said above, the law often is black-and-white, especially when it comes to road traffic regulations.
 

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IMHO, there appear to be different elements of the law involved here:
1. Statute (i.e. the law you might be prosecuted under for driving with undue care and attention).
2. The Highway Code - an approved code of practice, which the authorities use to define the statutory laws (i.e. exactly what undue care and attention consists of).
3. Local bye-laws (i.e. the rules that allow a council to designate a part of the road as a bus lane).
In the case of the red light, I would have thought you are dealing only with numbers 1 and 2 but in the bus lane scenario, which takes precedence?
This is a very interesting topic and will certainly make me think twice in the situation. Rightly or wrongly, I would tend to move for an ambulance or fire engine, but because of their attitude of constantly criminalising drivers, I would not bother for a copper. The police really should consider how their attitude towards motorists is affecting an otherwise law abiding public.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
As Billj said, police/fire/ambulance driver's have had i assume special training of some sort, to deal with high speed driving etc etc.

But, i'm sorry, i am not going to put myself and other motorists at risk by doing something stupid to let an emergency vehicle pass me, this is when there special training comes into affect, they have to assess the situation and get pass me safetly

But, what makes me really angry is when after reading that article i posted, it say's you can't even go into a bus lane oh come on to me that is just bloody stupid, it's only a bus lane, what possible harm can be done, the passenger's on the bus behind me are 30 seconds late for work!!

You pull over into the bus lane the emergency vehicle passes, you get out of it, that's it.

If an emergency vehicle is trying to pass (which only happened to me the other day) then all i do is slow down and let him pass (or her ) and if i can i will pull over and stop, but, as far as going through red lights, roundabout's and stuff, Sorry but no

It would be interesting, if there are any police officer's here, for them to give there view on this topic.
 

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It does in that circumstance. The leniency test is that you would be able to demonstrate having taken all reasonable steps to avoid the collision. This could be for example as simple as no one proving you hadn't. What was the other dricer doing ?

I suppose the general point - and this is true of all cases before the courts - is that there is no right or wrong; each case turns on it's own merits. Just because in a certain case the decision went one way doesn't mean that in front of the same judge/jury the next week it wouldn't go the opposite. Or, alternatively, if one judge/jury makes a finding of guilt on certain facts that this wouldn't change with a different judge and/or jury combination.

The absence of absolutes is what makes solicitors and barristers/advocates able to charge what they do
 

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[ QUOTE ]
I agree with Billj that you must obey the law and that the law takes precedence over the Highway Code.


[/ QUOTE ]

The Highway Code is a code of conduct put in place to enable us to drive within the law without the need for us all to be experts in every detail of the many Road Traffic Acts that make up "motoring law". There should be no case where following the Code breaks the law.

To clarify the difference between the Code and the law, if you are prosecuted for a motoring offence, you are charged with contravening a specific Road Traffic Act, with no mention of the Code.

However, as we all know, there are many shades of grey.
 

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Same old, same old....
One law for one and one for the police, just as I described in my previous post... you just can't win.

This morning on my way into work on my bike, I was nearly taken out by a moronic cretin who crossed MY right of way on the cycle path,head down talking into a mobile, not realising I was heading towards him at full pelt. Cycle paths here have markings, he crossed some 'sharks teeth' which meant he had to allow me to cross.. Instead he stopped in my path.

His phone call was interrupted by me giving a torrent of abuse (you don't want to hear me when I start, I'm like a touretter sufferer in the midst of a relapse ).

The cyclist in question was in police uniform on a police bike No wonder fewer people have respect for the law these days.
 
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