A video posted by an assistant medical officer showing inconsiderate drivers on the emergency lane getting in the way of an ambulance has since gone viral.
The 104 seconds long video recording, taken from inside an ambulance that was rushing to the scene of an accident in KM 228 on the North South Highway, showed the ambulance struggling to filter through traffic, as drivers on all lanes reacted nonchalantly to the ambulance's siren.
Drivers on the centre and right-side of the highway were not making any effort to make way for vehicles on the left lane, where the ambulance was, to move over, while many more vehicles illegally using the emergency lane to cut queue were slowing down the ambulance’s progress.
According to a Facebook post by the assistance medical officer, who was in a second back-up ambulance called to the scene, was estimated to arrive in 20 minutes, but was delayed by approximately 60 minutes. Subsequent unverified postings on social media claimed that two of the accident victims, who were still conscious and responsive at the scene of the accident, had later succumbed to their injuries.
This comes after our heroes in red, the tough men from Jabatan Bomba dan Penyelamat posted a similar video of their predicament several months back. At the 55 seconds mark, you could see from the video that none of the vehicles on the centre and right lane were making any effort to clear a path for the fire truck.
Every driver on each lane needs to make way
Perhaps it was the fault of our driving curriculum but making way for emergency services vehicles, irrespective of how near or how far you are from an ambulance or fire truck or police car, is something that every driver on every lane must be conscious of.
Realistically speaking, emergency lanes are for stalled or broken down vehicles. A large vehicle like an ambulance or a fire truck cannot be expected to filter through traffic using the emergency lane alone. Drivers around an emergency services vehicle must make way, not just for the ambulance or fire truck, but also to give space for other vehicles yielding to them. If necessary, fold your side mirrors.
How it’s done elsewhere
Since 2012, several countries in the European Union including Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Czech Republic and Slovenia have passed a law requiring vehicles in a traffic jam on a highway to move the extreme left- or right-side to create a ‘virtual emergency lane’ that’s wide enough for emergency services vehicles to drive thru at speed.
Failure to do so will result in a fine of 2000 Euros.
Here’s an example of the so-called Rettungsgasse regulation at work to quicken the pace of emergency services vehicles filtering through traffic.
It seems these European drivers are obedient enough but the German police aren’t too happy about the rate of compliance to the new Rettungsgasse regulation. A German TV crew was even invited to witness first hand, of the problems faced by the German police officers when responding to a call. Some drivers were verbally reprimanded by the police.
Elsewhere in other countries with a much stricter standard of driver education, ambulance drivers can drive in urban environment at fairly high speeds, fairly confident that (most) drivers are aware of their surroundings and will yield fast enough.
Their counterparts in India however, face a significantly harder challenge.