Stiff traffic penalties for motorists failing to give way for UAE emergency vehicles

ambulance speeding through traffic at night

The UAE recently announced stiff penalties for motorists who failed to give way to emergency vehicles. As of 1st July 2019, the UAE Ministry of Interior increased the fine for this violation to AED 3000 and 6 black points as well as vehicle impoundment for 30 days. This follows an increase in the number of motorists failing to give way to ambulances and civil defense vehicles. In 2016, the Dubai Police issued out 128 fines against this violation, which is nearly double the number of similar fines recorded in 2013. The stiffer penalties have been accompanied with a sensitization campaign conducted by various governmental agencies to raise awareness about  the importance of giving way for emergency vehicles. Wecashanycar explains the importance of giving way to  emergency vehicles.

Why you must give way for emergency vehicles?

An encounter with an emergency vehicle in the UAE is not uncommon. In fact, the Dubai Corporation for Ambulance Services reported that it receives an estimated 500 emergency calls daily. This number rapidly peaks at around 1,860 calls daily during the month of Ramadan when there is an increase in the number of health emergencies and motor vehicle accidents.

Ambulance drivers get frustrated when motorists fail to give them way. This exacerbates the emergency situations with the DCAS reporting that, in 2015, 49 mothers gave birth in the ambulance because motorists failed to give way to them. Some patients do not make it to the hospital while other mild cases rapidly escalate because of the delays during traffic. Surveys showed that these motorists acted out of ignorance for they did not view emergency situations as that important, especially because they do not know the person who is involved in the emergency.

What should you do when you see an emergency vehicle?

The sound of a siren can often trigger confusion on the road because many motorists do not know how to act when they see or hear an approaching emergency vehicle. Wecashanycar explores a few dos and don’ts that can make it easy for you and the emergency vehicle drivers. This is what you should do when you encounter an emergency vehicle:-

  1. Stay calm and alert. The moment you hear or see an emergency vehicle in your vicinity,you need to anticipate the best route that the emergency route could use and move in the right direction. Staying calm and alert will help you to make the right decision.

  2. Prioritise safety. Ideally, you ought to move to the right and give way to the emergency vehicle. Most emergency cars use the right shoulder to move expressly and this is why moving left is not recommended. However, you must prioritise safety and use your judgment to move to the side that feels safe and reduces obstruction and hazards on the road.  

  3. Give way at intersections. You must give way for emergency vehicles, regardless of whether the traffic light has turned green or you have the right of way at an intersection.

  4. Stop for the emergency vehicles. The moment you hear an oncoming emergency vehicle you must prepare to stop your car in a strategic spot that will not block the emergency vehicle. Emergency drivers often give indications of where they are headed and this can guide you to move in the right direction. You should use your indicators to alert other motorists of your intention to move in a particular direction. Ultimately, you must not stop in the middle of the road.

  5. Ensure the way is clear before driving back onto the road. Many drivers tend to be in a hurry to get back on the road after emergency vehicles pass by. This can endanger you and other motorists if the emergency vehicle is travelling in a convoy with first responders. You can avoid blind spots by using your mirrors to ascertain that there are no first responders following the emergency vehicles before merging with the traffic.

  6. Follow any instructions provided by the police. If you get caught in traffic due to an accident, there are chances that the police will be around to help out. You must follow their instructions as they guide you and other motorists to ease heavy congestion.

Things to avoid when you spot an emergency vehicle

  1. Do not panic. Panic tends to breed bad decisions and you should avoid this in an emergency situation. Try to stay calm and avoid any distractions. This will help you move in the right direction when you hear or see an emergency vehicle.

  2. Do not flout traffic rules in the pretext of giving way for emergency vehicles. Some drivers have been caught on the wrong side of the law for breaking traffic laws to let emergency vehicles pass. Ideally, you should not speed or jump a red light so as to give way to an emergency vehicle.

  3. Do not brake abruptly. Braking abruptly is often a result of panic and is considered dangerous because it can easily cause an accident.

  4. Do not rubberneck. Many UAE motorists tend to stop at accident sites to take a look at the details and this not only causes traffic, but heightens the chances of other accidents. The penalty for rubbernecking is AED 1000 and you can avoid this by slowly and cautiously driving by accident sites especially if you spot emergency workers trying to salvage the situation.

  5. Do not tailgate. Once an emergency vehicle has passed, you must give it and any other first responders some time before rejoining traffic. Drivers who tailgate ambulances and race after them to avoid traffic often end up causing accidents and creating more emergencies.  Ideally you should give an emergency vehicle a wide berth whenever it stops or moves in front of your car.

  6. Do not ignore emergency vehicles. Due to the notoriety of this traffic law, the UAE has implemented stringent laws against motorists who fail to give way for emergency vehicles. The penalties for blocking emergency vehicles is AED 500 and 4 black points.

The UAE intends to reduce the average emergency response time from 8 minutes to 4 minutes and this can only be done if they have the cooperation of motorists. You can play your part by following the above tips and giving way for emergency vehicles.

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