Last reviewed 25 May 2021

Emergency Alerts is a new service from the UK Government which is expected to launch in summer 2021 and which was subject to its first test in the East Suffolk area on 25 May.

Emergency Alerts are messages sent to mobile phones within an area of risk. They will work on all 4G and 5G phone networks in the UK.

Drivers and operators do not need to register for the service which will be used to warn about life-threatening emergencies such as severe flooding, explosions or terror attacks.

“All compatible mobile phones will be able to receive them,” the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) explains. “If you don’t have a mobile, you’ll still be kept informed through other channels.”

However, alerts will not be received if a device is turned off or in aeroplane mode.

Those in test areas will hear a loud siren-like sound for about 10 seconds and a message will appear on their phone screen. They do not need to do anything or respond.

Indeed, the DVSA stresses that they should not read or otherwise respond to an Emergency Alert while driving, as is it is illegal to hold a mobile phone while driving.

“You must have hands-free access such as voice command, a dashboard holder or mat, or a windscreen mount and the device must not block the driver’s view of the road or the traffic,” it points out.

Drivers are advised to find somewhere safe and legal to stop before reading the message.

More details of the new system can be found at: GOV.UK.