Motorist fined for impeding ambulance

ESSEX Ambulance Service has welcomed the penalty handed down to a man who impeded the progress of a rapid response vehicle on its way to an emergency call.

ESSEX Ambulance Service has welcomed the penalty handed down to a man who impeded the progress of a rapid response vehicle on its way to an emergency call.

Peter Hopkins, of Coronation Avenue, Colchester, admitted a charge of careless driving when he appeared at Epping Magistrates' Court.

The magistrates endorsed his licence with six penalty points, fined him £250 and ordered him to pay costs of £200.

It is believed to be one of the first times in Essex that a driver has been convicted in such circumstances.


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The incident happened on March 30, 2004, on the anti-clockwise carriageway of the M25. The ambulance service had received reports of an accident involving a motorcycle and a car on the slip road at junction 28.

A rapid response vehicle had been sent from Thurrock to the incident, with a crew of two. It was using lights and sirens when it came up behind Mr Hopkins' car which was in lane three of the motorway. It is claimed the emergency vehicle was stuck behind Mr Hopkins for about four miles.

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An ambulance service spokesman said: “A number of minutes in a potentially life threatening situation were wasted because the response vehicle was unable to pass Mr Hopkins' car.

"Fortunately the motorcyclist was not badly injured but at the time the crew had no idea how serious the incident was.

"We hope that the sentence handed down to Mr Hopkins will serve as a reminder to all drivers to ensure that they are mindful of emergency vehicles at all times. Our crews only ever use their blue lights and sirens if they are in an emergency situation.

"There is an inherent risk when driving at speed and it is vital that we get the full co-operation of the public. In the majority of cases people are extremely helpful in pulling to the side of the road to allow us through.

"However, it is frustrating that there is a small minority who hold up our vehicles either because they have not realised they are there or deliberately do not get out of the way.”

Inspector Steve Brewer, from Essex Police, added: “It is extremely frustrating when emergency vehicles are obstructed by motorists who are not paying attention to the road.

"It is a situation that happens all too frequently and has the potential to put lives at risk by delaying the arrival of emergency vehicles at life threatening scenes.

"It would be inappropriate for us to comment on the specifics of this prosecution but we hope the outcome will at least serve as a reminder of the importance of concentrating when behind the wheel."

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