Doctor cars with a green flashing light

I was pondering earlier why do Doctors in marked response cars have a green flashing light on the roof and not a blue? 


Surely if the medical emergency is serious enough for a Doctor to respond in a marked car, it’s serious enough for a blue light? Doctors do quite important jobs and if even Revenue and Customs and the Forestry Commission qualify for a blue light, then why not Dr’s too?

Nice car… 

Good question, deserves an answer. Maybe you should submit it as a homework question to Simon Mayo.


“Green emergency lighting is used by doctors on emergency calls, but it grants no privileges or exemptions from traffic laws”


From reading about there use it seems they are more for when stationary “on call” for doctors, ambulances etc although I would duly oblige if I was in the way of such a vehicle.

We must have members who can answer this one, maybe who drive such an equipped vehicle.


I know certain blue light vehicles ( mountain rescue ) can only use blue lights if life is in imminent danger ( such as known casualties to be buried in an avalanche ) and are also not except from traffic laws such as overtaking at solid white lines, no protection from speeding fines and I think they can’t jump red lights. 


Google is your friend.

You must remember that green lights date back to a day when there was last traffic and more courteous drivers.

Although permitted for any urgent call they came into their own in the late with the rise of BASICS type schemes originating from the original North Yorkshire Road Accident Care Scheme pioneered by Dr Kenneth Easton.

The original doctors light was a flat lensed beacon with a green front and red rear lens that flashed, followed by traditional acorn beacons with split lens and later all green.

It’s use was/is:

  • A courtesy light requesting road users to safely allow the doctor to make progress
  • A scene safety light (RTC’s would pften be in poorly lit areas and scene management was more rudimentary back then)
  • An identification light so emergency services knew the plain car approaching was the doctor and not some ordinary motorist and they would be let straight through any cordon

Although exemptions were not permitted on paper several BASICS doctors did add sirens, headlight flashers, etc with the tacit approval of their police or ambulance service and BASICS introduced driver training courses over the years.

London was the first area to officially allow BASICS doctors to use blues and exemptions in the 90’s after several key incidents and as most BASICS activations are now directly under the auspices of the local ambulance service the ‘ambulance purposes’ exemption is used to permit a more widespread use of blues and two’s (along with training) by doctors.

The biggest user of fully green lightbars/beacons are out of hours GP co-operatives (& similar) who do not do immediate care work like BASICS, but nevertheless can go to potentially serious cases, however in practice they rarely if ever use their lights unless they encounter and RTC.

I’ve only once ever seen a doctor with a green beacon in use outside the BASICS arena of operations and they drove normal speed and stopped at red lights as per thr rules.

I get what you are saying completely!

The doctors cars or paramedic cars are often first on the scene so why not have blue lights? A couple of times in the last few months I’ve had experiences of the first to the scene type paramedic/ doctor cars. For my own dad and for a lady found having a heart attack in the middle of the street. These guys do a great job and should have the same privileges as a normal ambulance/ emergency car.

Although I, sure if people see any form of flashing lights they should shift over/ make it safe for them to pass.

As a firefighter, I had to pass an Emergency Fire Appliance driving course after training. I’m not 100% sure, but it may be that green lights are on emergency vehicles where the driver has not passed or not required to pass such a course, and as such is an insurance thing - you can’t just stick a blue light on any vehicle and drive it, and not everybody can drive a vehicle with a blue light. There was a case a while ago where some part time firefighters bought blue lights to put on their private vehicles when on call, to drive to the station when alerted. They were driving against the law and without insurance. Emergency drivers with blue lights are not exempt to as many road traffic laws as you’d imagine.

Going slightly off topic here but everyone should look at this for details of what to do when Plod, Fireman Sam, and the Ambulance service want to "make progress"

Police and Fire service still make their drivers do extensive driver training in order to do their “blue light” runs, but many Ambulance drivers are not as well trained as they used to be, and tend to “Bully” their way through traffic. I don’t think “green” light users have any compulsory driver training in their “making Progress” driving…but, I hope to be corrected on this!

I teach driving for a living, and the advice above is first class, many "fleet drivers I come into contact with, and by general observations of most road users, are that most panic when they see/hear an emergency vehicle, and if stationary in traffic are too close to the vehicle in front to get out of the way when something is coming up behind them…do yourselves and the Blue light boys and girls a favour…leave a decent gap in front of you so you can move over …and when being followed don’t slam on your brakes!..think first! Do not pull onto pavements…you might hit a cyclist/pedestrian…never go through a red light…there is no excuse…if you cause an accident…extra people could get hurt…and the emergency vehicle might not be able to get to where it wanted to go! 


stay safe…

^^^^^^^This above I agree is annoying when some drivers just slam on the brakes, mount kerbs etc when there is no need.

I had a case recently where the driver in front of me slammed their brakes on and stopped dead to the side of the road. I had already decided at a wider part of the road further on I would slow and pull over to the left, but no the driver in front just stopped dead near a central reservation and junction. I just carried on and calmly slowed and moved to left further on, the fire vehicle still got by me with ease but not the other car, they had caused a chicane like manoeuvre for it.