One driver out of four doesn’t know what to do when at the sight of an emergency vehicle, indicated Thursday VIAS, the Belgian Road Safety Institute, on the basis of a survey done last month. As the emergency vehicles find it more and more difficult to find their way through the traffic, in Antwerp and Brussels in particular, rescue teams count “that much more on civism and appropriate behavior from road users, to avoid wasting time on the road,” indicated Major Ledeghen, in charge of the Brussels firefighters’ Mobility Service.
Every month, crashes needing an ambulance claim six victims (injured or killed) in Belgium, according to the 2017 figures. Besides, 60% of these accidents occur in urban areas.
Last month, six Belgians out of ten had to move over to the side to let an emergency vehicle pass by. So, the case is common, observes Karin Genoe, VIAS’s delegated administrator. “Most of the users remain calm but 8% confess to being stressed. The driver does not always know what exactly to do and the emergency vehicle loses precious time’’, she stipulates. Youth (22%), furthermore, are four times more anxious than the 35-54 age group (5%).
Sometimes, as a priority vehicle draws near, pedestrians cross, vehicles slam on the brakes, road users coordinate poorly, others get into the middle of a convoy, which may also cause accidents. The drivers’ behavior has a strong impact on the speed with which fire and emergency services will intervene,” stresses Major Ledeghen.