Police and emergency services are reminding Auckland motorists to do the right thing and give way to their vehicles when they respond to critical incidents.
Police are becoming increasingly concerned by the number of people who fail to give way or pull to the left when they’re travelling on lights and sirens, especially on the city’s motorways.
Road Policing Manager for Tamaki Makaurau, Inspector Scott Webb says ambulances, fire engines and police cars need to get to emergency situations fast so it’s crucial motorists move out of the way as soon as possible so they can get past.
“Our emergency partners, St John and Fire and Emergency New Zealand, do an incredible job responding to life-threatening situations 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” he says.
“Together, we respond to vehicle crashes, fires, medical emergencies and a number of different situations where people’s lives are in danger. We give our all to helping the communities we serve and being there when people need help.”
Inspector Scott Webb says while most people know what to do and let emergency vehicles pass, a number of people aren't getting the message.
“We see it every day where people don’t give way, take far too long to do so, or stop in the middle lane or the fast lane. Sometimes, drivers aren't checking their mirrors or have their music up too loud so are completely oblivious to the fact we’re behind them trying to get through traffic.”
This can have a direct influence on emergency service response times.
If motorists are driving on a single lane road, they need to indicate and pull over to the left side of the road to wait for the emergency vehicle to pass, he says.
-In a multi-lane road, motorists are advised to slow down, indicate and get into the left lane so the emergency vehicle can pass.
-Check your mirrors to see which lane the vehicle is coming in and don’t pull out in front of it.
-If you’re on the motorway in congested traffic, check your rearview mirrors as the emergency vehicle will likely want to split traffic.
-Pullover to the left lane as far left as possible and if you’re in the right lane pull over as far right as possible creating a gap in the middle for the emergency vehicle to get through.
-Motorists should be checking their rearview mirrors every 15 seconds, he says.
“When it comes to responding to emergencies, every second count, lives are often on the line, so we’re urging people play their part and pull over for our vehicles.”
Not making way for an emergency vehicle can result in a $150 fine, as well as possibly putting someone’s life at risk.
Fire and Emergency’s Assistant Area Manager Stephan Sosich says it’s important to remember when you see a fire truck or emergency service vehicle with lights flashing and sirens sounding, we’re on our way to help someone in need.
“Those extra seconds can make all the difference so make sure you check your mirrors and pull over safely to let us pass.”
“When we are operating an ambulance under lights and sirens, it’s important that we respond as quickly and safely as possible because it’s time-critical for the patient,” says St John Assistant Director of Operations - Field Operations Tony Devanney.
“Our advice for the public is to reduce their speed, indicate to the left and safely pull over, and be extra cautious when lights and sirens are detected near roundabouts and traffic lights,” he says.
What you should do to make way for an emergency service vehicle:
-More as far left as you can as fast as possible.
-Check your mirrors regularly, every 15 seconds which means you’ll have plenty of time seeing the approaching vehicle to move.
-If you’re listening to music in your vehicle, it pays to have it at a volume where you can still hear sirens.
-If you can hear sirens but can’t tell where they’re coming from, pull over to the left in a safe place and wait at the side of the road.
-If it’s not safe to stop, slow down and keep as far left as you can. This will give you time to figure out where the emergency vehicle is coming from.
-Once the emergency vehicle has passed, check the road is clear before you pull back out into traffic.