You can help us get there – emergency services' message to drivers in new campaign

Blue crewAvon Fire & Rescue Service (AF&RS) is leading a campaign to educate drivers about what they can do to help emergency vehicles responding to 999 calls.

“You can help us get there” is the message of the campaign being launched on Friday 22 July, to coincide with the Chief Fire Officers’ Association Road Safety Day.  

Following an extensive research project the service has produced three short films encouraging drivers to ‘Listen, Look, Think, React’. The videos provide practical advice about what drivers can do to help emergency vehicles on their way to incidents.

The production of the films is the culmination of a year-long project into the issues facing blue light drivers on a daily basis. More than 200 emergency drivers from AF&RS, Avon and Somerset Constabulary and Great Western Ambulance Service were questioned about their experiences as part of a survey designed to highlight areas where the public may need more guidance.

In total 65% said most road users ‘appear unsure of how to behave’ when approached by an emergency service vehicle on blue lights, with 88% citing erratic or unpredictable behaviour by motorists as the biggest difficulty they face.

A similar survey was also carried out among 1,900 members of the public in an effort to gain an understanding of how drivers think they should behave when approached by an emergency vehicle.

Just over half (57%) of drivers said they had never received advice on what they should do if a blue light vehicle is trying to pass them. The findings also showed that one in three drivers and learner drivers would break the Highway Code and go through a red traffic light if an emergency vehicle came up behind them.

The campaign is being championed by Avon Fire & Rescue Service’s Chief Fire Officer/Chief Executive Kevin Pearson. Earlier this year AF&RS signed up to the European Road Safety Charter and pledged its support to the UN Decade of Action on Road Safety.

CFO/CE Pearson said: “The research told us the biggest concern for drivers was being the person responsible for holding up an ambulance, police car or fire engine. Although the issue is covered in the Highway Code we found drivers weren’t always sure what was the best action to take.

“The aim of this campaign is to provide clear and practical advice under the headings Listen, Look, Think, React. The message is simple ‘You can help us get there’ if you take a few seconds to think about the safest thing to do to help an emergency vehicle get past.”

A series of three films aimed at learner drivers, new drivers and experienced drivers have now been posted on YouTube, with more information at www.HelpUsGetThere.com . Visitors to the website will be encouraged to complete a short survey with a chance to win £100 of high street vouchers or free ‘pass plus’ lessons from BSM for new drivers.

CFO/CE Pearson added: “The fire, ambulance and police services all deal with situations where people’s lives are in danger and every second really does count. We know motorists want to help us, but for blue light drivers negotiating their way through traffic can be difficult if people are unsure what to do.

“Driving on blue lights comes with a certain level of risk to both emergency crews and the public. I’m absolutely committed to improving road safety in our area and I believe the campaign we are launching today will bring real benefit to emergency service staff and the general public.”

To support the launch of the campaign awareness events featuring the Blue Light Crew will be taking place across the AF&RS area. A photograph of the Blue Light Crew is attached to this press release and more details can be found in the notes for editors.