29 May 2014

Blues & twos give Barnet man the blues

"Blues & twos" is the slang term for the blue lights & siren
Mr Mustard met a man yesterday who has ended up paying for a PCN because he went into a bus lane to get out of the way of an emergency ambulance. The ambulance is clearly showing in the photographs that Mr Mustard has seen, about 100m behind the car of Mr Blues. The council rejected his appeal on the grounds that it was too far away when he moved across.

Most drivers make room for emergency ambulances and sometimes put themselves in contravention by doing so. You hope that common sense will prevail and that you won't get a camera issued PCN, never mind that you will challenge it and be turned down. Cash hungry councils may take a different view.

What does the Highway code say? This, in paragraph 219:

Emergency and Incident Support vehicles. You should look and listen for ambulances, fire engines, police, doctors or other emergency vehicles using flashing blue, red or green lights and sirens or flashing headlights, or Highways Agency Traffic Officer and Incident Support vehicles using flashing amber lights. When one approaches do not panic. Consider the route of such a vehicle and take appropriate action to let it pass, while complying with all traffic signs. If necessary, pull to the side of the road and stop, but try to avoid stopping before the brow of a hill, a bend or narrow section of road. Do not endanger yourself, other road users or pedestrians and avoid mounting the kerb. Do not brake harshly on approach to a junction or roundabout, as a following vehicle may not have the same view as you.

So that means you don't enter the bus lane during its hours of operation as you are then at the mercy of an appeal clerk who may not show any and you will have to challenge your PCN all the way to PATAS to get a fair hearing.

Don't go over the stop line at traffic lights. The ambulance will have to wait or choose to go onto the other side of the road. 

Don't mount the kerb to make the road wider for the ambulance to get through. It will have to proceed along with the rest of the traffic until there is no oncoming traffic or the road is wide enough for you to safely pull to the side out of the way.

Mr Mustard can see how other road users might sound their horn at you to get you to try and move out of the way (and they shouldn't actually sound their horn when stationary at traffic lights as that is an offence, to sound ones horn when stationary or when driving after 11pm and before 7.30am in a built-up area except when another road user poses a danger) but if you are at a camera monitored junction, which in London will most likely include all yellow box junctions, you will have to cock a deaf ear.

Mr Mustard would be very interested to have comments added by any ambulance drivers as to why the ambulance was not using the bus lane given that there were 4 cars in the all traffic lane and the bus lane was empty (until Mr Blues went into it) and what instructions are given to ambulance drivers in their training about bus lanes before they are allowed to drive a blue light ambulance.

Mr Mustard would like to add that he has taken and passed the IAM (Institute of Advanced Motoring) motorcycle test and also retakes the ROSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) advanced motorcycling test every 3 years and is currently at Gold standard. He has also been in the back of an emergency ambulance to a hospital when he collapsed, for no apparent reason, in the street in his early twenties and a passing nurse stopped and came to his aid.

Is it only Mr Mustard or do you find the flashing blue lights are so bright now that it is hard to see and that slows down your ability to get out of the way?

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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