HL Deb 15 January 2004 vol 657 cc96-7WA
Lord Norton of Louth

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What requirements have to be met by drivers of emergency vehicles, including private ambulances, and what plans there are to introduce statutory requirements. [HL638]

Lord Davies of Oldham

Drivers of emergency vehicles are subject to the rules of the Highway Code, many of which are legal requirements.

However, Section 87 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 exempts drivers of vehicles used for fire brigade, ambulance or police purposes from speed limits in an emergency. The Zebra, Pelican and Puffin Pedestrian Crossings Regulations 1997 give qualified exemptions from signals at puffin and pelican crossings to vehicles used for fire brigade, ambulance, national blood service and police purposes, and the Traffic Signs Regulations 2002 give similar qualified exemptions from other red light signals and keep right/left arrows to vehicles being used for fire brigade, ambulance, bomb or explosive disposal, national blood service or police purposes.

In no case is any distinction made as to whether a vehicle being used for ambulance purposes is private or not.

Officials in the Driving Standards Agency working together with the Department of Health, the fire brigade, police and the Ministry of Defence have developed an agreed set of minimum core competences for drivers of emergency vehicles of all types which have been adopted by these "blue-light users". The DoH has agreed that the core competences should apply to all ambulance drivers employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.

Powers were taken in the Transport Act 2000 to require drivers of certain classes of motor vehicles to take a prescribed training course. We are considering what regulations should be introduced using these powers, including post-test training for drivers of vehicles under "blue-light" conditions.