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Blue Lamp Vehicles

Volume 406: debated on Monday 9 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list classes of vehicles that have an entitlement to use blue lamps; and if he will list regulations that are in force that control the use of blue lamps on vehicles. [117757]

The Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989 restrict the fitting of blue warning beacons or special warning lamps to emergency vehicles. The meaning of an emergency vehicle in these regulations is defined as a motor vehicle of any of the following descriptions

(a) a vehicle used for fire brigade, ambulance or police purposes;
(b) an ambulance, being a vehicle (other than an invalid carriage) which is constructed or adapted for the purposes of conveying sick, injured or disabled persons and which is used for such purposes;
(c) a vehicle owned by a body formed primarily for the purposes of fire salvage and used for those or similar purposes;
(d) a vehicle owned by the Forestry Commission or by a local authority and used from time to time for the purposes of fighting fires;
(e) a vehicle owned by the Secretary of State for Defence and used
  • (i) for the purposes of the disposal of bombs or explosives,
  • (ii) by the Naval Emergency Monitoring Organisation for the purposes of a nuclear accident or an incident involving radioactivity,
  • (iii) by the Royal Air Force Mountain Rescue Service for the purposes of rescue operations or any other emergencies, or
  • (iv) by the Royal Air Force Armament Support Unit;
  • (f) a vehicle primarily used for the purposes of the Blood Transfusion Service provided under the National Health Service Act 1977(a) or under the National Health Service (Scotland) Act 1978(b);
    (g) a vehicle used by Her Majesty's Coastguard or Coastguard Auxiliary Service for the purposes of giving aid to persons in danger or vessels in distress on or near the coast;
    (h) a vehicle owned by the British Coal Corporation and used for the purposes of rescue operations at mines;
    (i) a vehicle owned by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and used for the purposes of launching lifeboats; and
    (j) a vehicle primarily used for the purposes of conveying any human tissue for transplanting or similar purposes.
    Regulation 27 of the same regulations prohibits the use of warning beacons emitting blue light and special warning lamps by emergency vehicles except (i) at the scene of an emergency (ii) or when it is necessary or desirable either to indicate to persons using the road the urgency of the purpose for which the vehicle is being used, or to warn persons of the presence of the vehicle or hazard on the road.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list the legal instruments that (a) control the behaviour of drivers in vehicles using blue lamps and (b) exempt drivers in vehicles attending emergency incidents from observing speed limits. [117758]

    Regulations on the use of blue lights do not in themselves provide any special privileges for drivers.There are, however, certain relaxations often associated with the use of blue lights. 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 Pelican and Puffin crossings to vehicles being used for fire brigade, ambulance, national blood service and police purposes. 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.