Emergency Vehicles

This page has been put together using Qld road rules legislation as of 2009.
It is in no way purposed or designed to be used for legal defence or legal advice!
It is designed to help you know and obey the road rules.
Not to justify bad driving behaviours.

Police CarI am sure you are all aware of our emergency services in Australia: Fire, Ambulance and Police. They are all clearly visible on the roads (except of course the unmarked police cars) and are fitted with flashing lights and annoying sirens. We all rely upon these services to keep us and our families and friends safe and healthy to some degree or another. I’m sure everyone reading this knows that a phone call to 000 can quickly mobilize these units to your assistance should you require it. But what do you do when you come across these vehicles on the road?

It is surprising how many people just don’t understand the expectations and limitations that are placed upon them via our road rules.Fire Engine

If an emergency vehicle is coming towards you with the red and/or blue lights flashing and they are sounding their siren you are required to move out of the path of that vehicle as soon as you are able to do so SAFELY and in a LEGAL manner.

To do this you should:

  • Check if you are in their lane, if not slow down to allow traffic to merge into your lane.
  • If they are in your lane start preparing to change lanes, do not perform some kind of emergency manoeuvre yourself, look for the space, indicate, check your shoulder and then merge only when it is safe to do so.
  • REMEMBER: To continue to watch all the traffic around you, people do strange things in these circumstances. Also keep an eye on the emergency vehicle in-case they change lanes.
  • If you are on a single lane road, indicate left and pull over in a controlled manner, allowing the emergency vehicle to pass. Pull back out only when it is safe to do so.


  • Panic
  • Make any sudden movements (always indicate and check it is safe first), this allows them to see what you are planning so they can act accordingly.
  • Pull into the wrong (oncoming) lane.
  • Leave the road and mount the pavement or grass verge.
  • Get in the path of an emergency vehicle.


AmbulanceIf you are at an intersection you are simply required to give up your right of way and allow the emergency vehicle to proceed unhindered, even if you are at a green light or arrow. You should be especially observant at these times as emergency vehicles will often access the wrong side of the road to manoeuvre around traffic. So if you are at a green light and the emergency vehicle is behind you, check what they are doing in your rear view mirrors before you proceed, if they have moved into the ‘wrong side’ wait for them to proceed through the intersection before you go.

 Emergency Vehicles and Red lights

Emergency vehicles are permitted to go through a red traffic light in the case of an emergency.

  • They must have their lights flashing or their siren active.
  • For safety they should slow enough to engage 1st gear.
  • They should still give way to traffic that has not stopped for them.

If you happen to be in front of such an emergency vehicle, with their lights and sirens active, and the light is RED, it is okay to move through the intersection ONLY if it is SAFE to do so. Check thoroughly to be sure that all other traffic has stopped then slowly proceed through the lights in a safe, controlled and predictable manner.  Once through the intersection, indicate your intent to move out of their way and pull over.

Road Rules are always under review and are often changed or updated. This page was accurate at time of publishing, while we endeavour to keep these pages up to date we may occasionally miss something. You as a road user are expected to keep up to date with the Road Rules.