RAC Cars News


Drivers Fined For Moving Into Bus Lanes To Allow Ambulances To Pass

By raccars Published

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Traffic authorities are being criticised for a lack of discretion towards motorists who temporarily pull into bus lanes or creep past a red light, to make room for emergency vehicles. Drivers have been issued with fines by automated camera systems for trying to do the right thing by moving out of the way of ambulances and fire engines.

Motoring organisations are concerned that this could deter motorists from doing the same in the future, due to the risk of being penalised and so risk lives, as emergency vehicles struggle to clear a path. A poll by Populus showed that 10% of drivers overall and 17% in London now refuse to move over to a bus lane to allow emergency vehicles to pass, thanks to the threat of automatic fines.

Emergency response times are now being threatened by the issue, but the law is clearly defined, stating that other vehicles are only permitted to occupy a bus lane at the specific direction of a uniformed police officer. The law obliges drivers to remain on the road and force emergency response vehicles to find another route through traffic. Thanks to a huge increase in the number of automatic cameras on UK roads, any driver who moves into a yellow box or bus lane, to allow emergency services to pass, is almost certain to receive a penalty charge in the post automatically. At the moment, London is the only location where yellow boxes are enforced with automatic cameras but the rest of the UK is expected to follow suit.

Of 18,026 drivers questioned, only 13% overall and 19% in London would break the law by using a yellow box junction to allow emergency services to pass. The standard fine for occupying a bus lane or yellow box in London is £130, reduced to £65 for payment within 14 days. By contrast, nearly half of the drivers questioned were prepared to go through a red light and 31% to break the speed limit, in order to help emergency vehicles find a way through traffic. Both of these offences risk a fixed penalty fine of £100 plus three licence penalty points.

At the moment, 39% of drivers claim to be happy to break the law by speeding and using yellow box junctions, bus lanes or pavements to get out of the way of emergency service vehicles. However, the danger is that the pendulum could swing the other way if local councils continue to fail to exercise discretion in such cases.

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