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Understanding your blue light rights

Published on: 15 June 2017

Blue light brigade

With South African crime stats on the rise, it’s no surprise that the sound or sight of flashing lights will stir a little panic. With the common practice of using blue lights to deter motorists, the arrival of government, emergency and police vehicles on the road, motorists often find themselves making avoidable mistakes as a result of the panic.

In reality, most flashing lights do in fact belong to legitimate official vehicles who happen to be doing their job, and in some instances, responding to emergency situations. However, it’s wise to exercise caution and important for motorists to understand both official protocols and their individual rights in any given scenario.

Because we care about your safety on (and off) the roads, we’ve put together these pointers for you to keep in mind...

Give way to the light-brigade.

According to the National Road Traffic Act, vehicles displaying a red or blue light (or a combination thereof), have absolute right of way - when it’s safe to do so. Whether or not you trust the legitimacy of the vehicle, it is advisable that you give way as best as possible. In light traffic situations, this can simply be done by pulling over, but in high-congestion scenarios, your best bet is to nudge your car as far over to the verge as possible, without causing any danger to yourself or other motorists.

Remember that it’s not for drivers to decide whether or not a vehicle is a legitimate government or emergency vehicle. Should you feel like the official vehicle is acting outside its legal bounds, your best bet is to jot down the number plate and report the car to the relevant authorities.

Your safety comes first.

With the lurking dangers on the roads, it’s understandable that you may have some trust issues. If you find yourself in a situation where you are approached by a police vehicle attempting to pull you over, it’s in your best interest to exercise caution. Now we are not saying don’t abide by the law, however, should you feel unsafe to stop, you have the right to drive to a safer location. Be sure to acknowledge their presence and indicate that they should follow you. Take heed of the Blue Light Protocol!

Whatever you do, however unsafe you feel, do not drive to your home or that of a friend, as you could be putting yourself and others in danger should your suspicions be correct and they are indeed not official police but rather criminals.

Ultimately, no vehicle has the right to force you off the road – official vehicle or not. However, it’s important to exercise discretion, courtesy and regard for safety in all scenarios. We may not be able to ensure a smooth drive on the road; however, we can help you out with your car insurance. While you’re taking your safety into your own hands, why not do the same with your insurance policy by insuring online? Driving is stressful enough, eliminate the stress of insurance and get a quote online today.