A new campaign has been launched as fire chiefs say the number of incidents in which motorists hinder emergency service vehicles with erratic driving and poor parking is worse than ever before.
The #INeedMySpace campaign from Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service comes after an increasing number of drivers have delayed fire engines getting to incidents.
These motorists are putting lives at risk by blocking off roads and even stopping on box junctions outside fire stations. However, it is not just parking that is the problem and firefighters say some drivers are not sure what to do when they hear the sirens blaring.
Some slam their brakes on immediately and risk causing an accident while others try to tailgate behind the vehicle which can cause a crash - particularly if more than one engine has been deployed.
Now photographs and videos will be posted under the campaign hashtag to show examples of these practices and help educate motorists.
Deputy Chief Fire Officer Andy Bowers said:
“The issue of motorists blocking the paths of emergency services vehicles is worse than ever before.
“Some drivers are parking opposite one another making an entire road inaccessible while others are actually stopping by station exits, often in the hatched areas, and some are even leaving their cars on our grounds.
“Please also remember that although you may only hear one siren, there may regularly be more than one emergency vehicle responding.
“These issues are causing delays and when tackling a fire or cutting somebody out of a car this can be the difference between life and death.”
The service is now giving guidance for motorists in how best to help emergency vehicles get to incidents.
The golden rules are:
CALM: Don’t panic or speed up in an attempt to get out of the way. Don’t go through red lights or veer into a bus lane as you will still be prosecuted. Do not attempt to outrun a fire engine. You are not allowed to drive down the hard shoulder. You will still be breaking the law.
ALERT: Turn distracting music down and check mirrors to help determine the direction and number of emergency vehicles. Look for somewhere safe to pull in but avoid kerbs, pavements, bends and junctions. Watch out for other motorists braking suddenly.
RESPONSE: Indicate, check your mirror and move to the left when it is safe to do so. Wait patiently to ensure all emergency vehicles have gone and then safely move back out into traffic.
Be 'Blue Light Aware'
Driving on the roads of Hampshire and hear sirens and see blue lights? How should you react? What should you do?
Blue Light Aware is a short video, produced on behalf of the emergency services. Emergency crews rely on the help of other road users when they're on a 'blue light' response.
This video will help you better understand what to do and will quite possibly help save a life.