Wednesday, October 05, 2005


We tend to have a bit of a problem when we are going to calls. It’s called traffic and other drivers.

Here are some common problems we come across:

If we're coming up behind a driver and there's a bollard ahead, the driver will stop next to the bollard thinking we can still get through.

As we approach a side road, a car will pull out in front of us, then immediately pull over so we can pass. This is not the good idea it may seem!

Drivers race ahead of us. This is not the thing to do and is potentially very dangerous. We are given an intensive 3 week advanced driving course, and we're taught to drive safely at speed. Most other drivers are not, and aren't looking for the hazards far enough ahead.

If there's an empty lane when approaching a red traffic light, someone will pull into it ahead of you to use you as an excuse to go through a red light

Driver's following dangerously close behind as a way of getting through traffic. More than once this has happened and the car following has gone into the back of the ambulance when it braked hard for the car at the side road!

Drivers blocking Keep Clear and Yellow Box areas on the road.

London bus drivers are extremely bad at pulling over. They only tend to stop when they reach the next bus stop. I had one bus once cause a delay of 4 minutes because he blocked a filter lane. He'd seen us coming before he got there too because he made eye contact through his mirror, but he just wouldn't pull over.

In fairness, most people do move out of the way and/or stop for us, but there will always be those who’s purpose in life is to be as big a pain in the arse for emergency vehicles as possible.

I think part of the problem is that people just don’t use their mirrors and don't look properly before pulling out. Drivers should be checking their mirrors at least every 10 – 15 seconds. Instead, it seems that mirrors are just there to make the car look pretty, and because the law says cars have to have them.

Others quite simply panic. I do think that learner drivers are not taught enough what to do when an emergency vehicle approaches them, either from behind, or in front of them.
When my other half passed her test, we went out for a drive and were approached from behind by an ambulance. She said she didn’t know what to do, so I had to coach her through pulling over and stopping in a safe place where the vehicle could get round us easily.

That’s the secret really. Keep an eye in the mirrors, and also look as far forward as you can see. That way you stand a good chance of spotting an emergency vehicle in good time, and seeing where you can safely pull over.

Keep an eye out for us, and do your best to help us get through. It could be your relative we're going to one day.


Blogger FJ said...

Interesting post mate...

I was actually on a driving lesson (Before I got my L plates) when an ambulance came up behind me at a T junction.

With nowhere but across the intersection to go, I don't think I was wrong to wait for the car coming across the T to go past before pulling out and moving over.

No amount of driver education can prepare you for a situation like that and my instructor told me I'd done the right thing in the circumstances, but it still didn't stop me from feeling guilty. LOL


PS: Do you mind if I link to you on my blog?

2:33 pm  
Blogger Steve said...

The other option there would be to sit still and let the ambulance come round you.

And of course you can link to my blog, no problem :)

3:19 pm  
Anonymous Mark said...

Hi there, love the blog, keep it up! I will definitely be a regular reader and have put you on my links. I must admit the ambulance driving post brought me out in a cold sweat as I am the world's worst driver. I want to go out on the road but I haven't even passed my test yet. On my first driving lesson I nearly hit a police car that was driving on blue lights. And the post about the urgent struck a chord with me... we always seem to end up holding the urgents when we are busy and often I think that those poor patients are sicker than half the 999 callers. There was one unfortunate incident when I took a call from a doctor for a 20 something man with pleuritic chest pain -- the doctor insisted we didn't need blue lights and I took it as an urgent... a hour later, the guy was blue lighted into hospital with a suspected PE! They had to get the tapes out to determine that it was the doctor's fault and not mine! Oh dear.


4:09 pm  
Blogger MuppetLord said...

I was lucky enough to be taught by an ex-police motorway driver.
I was taught a lot about being observant, and keeping an eye on traffic all the time.

I don't understand why people don't get out of the way of blue lights. Especially if the siren is going....having said that some of the new sirens are not very loud.

The best ones....the latest glow-in-the-dark ambulances...stupidly loud and with white noise for that extra little something.

Saw your post on Random Acts of Reality. Will link to you fairly shortly I suppose. :D

7:24 pm  
Blogger Steve said...

yeah the new ones are great - often see people walking down the road with their fingers in their ears!

10:16 pm  
Anonymous laputain said...

you're right about panic being an issue for drivers. I remember being thrown by sirens etc (even if it turned out they weren't any where near me) even once i was a pretty confident driver. That was a lot to do with my having learned in a country town and then later doing quite a bit of driving in Edinburgh near my student flat- at moving in and out times and so on. I suppose i noticed the panic because I was then 'used' to driving...just in a place where sirens either don't happen or happen on a dual carriage way (much easier to deal with!)

came to you via Nee Naw, nice stuff.

8:24 pm  

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