Priority on Roads for Emergency Vehicles - BTP's new education campaign

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Traffic jams

Courtesy - Deccan Herald

"...The Bangalore Traffic Police has kickstarted a campaign of sorts to educate the public on the need to give way to an ambulance. But whether this will change people’s attitude is yet to be seen..."

"...An ambulance with a wailing siren evokes many responses. There are some people who very kindly slow down on the side of the road and wait until the ambulance passes while some others — especially autorickshaw drivers and two-wheelers — literally chase after the ambulance to get past the signal light. There is yet another category of motorists who don’t budge to make way for the ambulance, come what may...."

"...“There are no policemen in sight most of the time and I think people are ignorant about the urgency of giving way to an ambulance,” she reasons. But Mohit, a businessman, has had a pretty bad experience with an ambulance.

“I almost got killed when an ambulance drove towards me once. The truth is that there’s so much traffic on the roads that there’s hardly any space for an ambulance to pass,” shares Mohit..."


Cant hear or see ambulance

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You know most of the times I can not hear the siren or see the lights of the ambulance behind me. Does anybody know the minimum decibel & lumen specs for ambulances in other countries?

I manage to make way & stop because (1) I learnt to do that in another country (2) I keep distance between me & the car in front & also leave space on the sides at least with the right lane (if I am not boxed in to the right most lane)

My feedback

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I have two-three small problems with this welcome intiative by BTP

1. They should emphasize "Emergency Vehicles" and not "Ambulances" alone.  Give way to Ambulance, Fire Engine and Police Vehic;les with lights and sirens on.

2. They keep saying "give way to your right" in their campaign.  instead, they should say, "Move to your left". 

3. If there is no lance discipline, it is very difficult to give way or move to your left since every inch of space is filled up.  This is one reason lanes are 3.3 m wide, so that vehicles can all move to a side and create one extra lane in an emergency.

There is an interesting back story to this.

Recently, a traffic policeman had a massive hear attack and his colleagues managed to rush him 20 km to Jayadeva hospital at record speed. See news item in BM  here. While it is good news for the cop and I am happy for the cop, others also should have this sort of hope?

The title - 'It pays to be more civilised'

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The title of the article on which this post was written says all "It pays to be more civilized".

Only a 10-15 seconds of consideration is what required from everybody on road. All other road infrastructure constraints are true and still we can do what is doable.

Agree with Sanjay, it shouldn't only for Ambulances alone, it should cover Fire Trucks, Police Vehicles with Sirens'Lights. Better words would be 'Emergency Vehicles'.


In USA, it is 115 db for Emergency Vehicle Siren!

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Here is a link for Noise Level Chart that lists the dB levels for all kinds of sounds including Emergency Vehicle Sirens, which is about 115 dB.

Alternatives to educating poeple

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1) Each ambulance should have a loud speaker using which driver can convey the emergency to vehicles ahead and request them to give a side. 


2) there can be a camera installed on top of ambulance and issue heavy challans to all vehicles that doesnt give side to an ambulance during emergency.


Expecting people to behave themselves is a bigger task and takes lot of time. I think the better solution would be to enforce a rule as strictly as possible so that people doesn't have any other choice other than following it.

Need for hospitals as an alternative

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There was a discussion on this before. A techie from Bangalore was trying to do something on this issue, with the stop lights at the intersections.

Emergency Vehicles including fire engines need to have priority. What if there is no space on the road that has full of vehicles waiting for the green light? Some roads have vehicles stretching to more than 50 mts waiting for the green. Also "Move to your left" is a good suggestion rather than "give way to your right". There is a need to enforce the cell phone use ban while driving. I see people driving their cars talking on the cell as if there is nothing else in this world. Enforcement by BTP is very poor.

One alternative is to have hospitals in every area/wards that take the patients in emergency conditions, not sending to some other hospital. Having said that the hospitals need to have the facilities also.

Pleading alone does NOT work

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While such messaging drives and initiatives from BTP are noteworthy, such pleading exercises have to go hand in hand with enforcement overdrive. Is there any fine for not giving way to an emergency vehicle? If yes, then lets have such fines issued for a month. that will go well with the "messaging overdrive".

The "lane driving" messaging exercise suffered due to this. Lot more difference could have been made if there were to be a matching overdrive to fine the drivers who turned right from straight lanes, or vice versa. I didn't see any enforcement around this. And now, the lane marking cones have become all but meaningless.

Summay? Messaging overdrives are good. But need at least one or two days a month when enforcement is doubled up around whatever is being messaged out that month. These "double enforcement days" could be when citizens volunteer to help issue spot fines, volunteer to upload lot of pictures of one violation type etc.

Little bit more effort, and we could get 3 times better results from BTP's messaging drives.