Motoring News

Smart way to handle Blue Lights bullies – and emergencies

LIGHTS, CAMERAS, ACTION: The boys in blue (or in South Africa’s case, brown) light up to bring another highway miscreant to book. Image: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – South African drivers have gained notoriety for not showing the courtesy and respect deserved by emergency vehicles. Not only is there little effort to clear a path for these vehicles but some drivers tail emergency vehicles to skip the resulting traffic.

The consequences of this can be far-reaching., says the MD of South African road-safety organisation MasterDrive: ”Attitudes towards emergency vehicles may result because of confusion about the correct response.

”The first rule is ‘Don’t Panic’! If you hear sirens closing from behind don’t stop abruptly or move out of the way recklessly.

”Wait until you see where the emergency vehicle(s) are before deciding where to move. MasterDrive trains emergency vehicle drivers to indicate where they plan on moving.

”Carefully assess the situation before making an impulsive move.”


There are a number of other tips to keep in mind:

DON’T move over the yellow line on the left of the road. That space is intended for emergency vehicles or to accommodate a disabled vehicle.

Even if others block this lane, rather move to the right.

NEVER SKIP a red light or stop sign to make way (you could become another emergency).

DON’TImmediately move back into your previous traffic slot – a second or even a third emergency vehicle could be following the first.


IT’S illegal to not make way for emergency vehicles. Herbert again: “Finding yourself stuck in traffic as a result of a crash can be frustrating but under no circumstances refuse to move out of the way. Not only could you be threatening someone’s life but you are increasing the time it takes to reach the crash scene.

READ MORE MasterDrive features on Carman’s Corner

“Never follow right behind an emergency vehicle or convoy that passes you. It requires following the vehicle much too closely to be safe. If they suddenly stop, as is likely, there will be no way to avoid a collision.”


…the self-important armed, and downright arrogant (editor’s words) blue-lights convoys carrying state and provincial ‘VIPs’.

“Many road users,” Herbert says, ”are less inclined to give right of way to what they think are politicians rushing through traffic. Yet, the law states drivers must give way to vehicles displaying blue or red lights.

”Simply, you’re legally obliged to move out of the way.

“Drivers of these vehicles can be unforgiving to those who refuse to move. It’s simply not worth your safety to challenge them. Rather allow them to pass then continue your journey without the the aggravation of a tussle with a blue-light brigade driver.

”Drive nice, it’s contagious.”

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