The word "Ambulance" is written in reverse because the driver in front of the ambulance can see the words spelt correctly in his rear view mirror. Quickly, this driver blocking the ambulance passageway can quickly identify that the vehicle behind him is an ambulance and react by giving way.
The word “Ambulance” is written in the reverse order. E comes first, the C, N, A… The reason? Because the driver in front of the ambulance will see the AMBULANCE spelt correctly in his own mirrors.
Perfectly. Not upside down. Not the wrong way around.
The true intent of reverse writing is for the driver ahead to quickly recognise and identify that his own vehicle is in front of and is blocking an ambulance.
Time needed: 1 minute.
Scenario: Driving on the highway
Listening to the radio, singing along 🎶
Red, blue, white lights. 🚨 “Why are they so bright?”
Squinting your eyes, you try to focus on the shape of the light source ⁉️
Printed on the ambulance bonnet, the reverse writing is shown correctly in all your mirrors
Road courtesy: Most often drivers in such situations react by giving way – filtering out and merging into a slower moving lane
Patients gain a few precious seconds. Families get a better chance at seeing their loved ones well again.
Plus – At junctions and intersections, nice drivers like these who give way are very much appreciated. Ambulances at the first in line have the opportunity to beat the red light legally.
The scientific term is known as lateral inversion. Lateral inversion creates the mirror image we see.
Below you can see a photo printed on the front of the ambulance.
Some characteristic features of the printed text:
The first letter opposite “E” becomes the last letter “E” in the correct direction; the last letter “A” becomes the first letter “A”.
On an emergency vehicle, the word Ambulance will thus show on the driver’s side mirror correctly.
The left hand side and right hand side of every vehicle are convex mirrors that allow the vehicle in front of the ambulance to look back at the traffic.
Mirrored text is read in the correct order and correct sequence when seen from these left side and right side mirrors.
There is no need to read back-to-front or upside down when seen in the mirror. Instead you can read the mirror writing in the normal way.
The text is capitalised as AMBULANCE and written in the reverse (or opposite order) – ECNALUBMA. The large font is always printed in bold and upper case to increase readability. This is one of the basic features of an ambulance.
Moreover, ECNALUBMA is printed on the front of the vehicle as the bonnet / hood has the largest surface area and can be easily seen from far away.
More Questions That People Also Ask
For most, the ambulance industry is usually seen as a step up the career ladder. It is a high intensity environment where the young thrive and the older wean away.
And for those who work while on the road, we want to be safe and stay safe while doing our jobs.
Reverse writing is a great visual cue. Better visibility avoids accidents. Less accidents means less chances of injuries. This translates to better safety for ambulance crew who work on the go.
Visual cognition is increased and vehicle identification is made easier with mirror writing.
To help people and road users see the mirror image even better, most ambulances print the words with reflective materials.
In fact, 3M brand stickers are usually used because of their great night performance and durability in rain & shine.
When white light shines on the stickers, they give off a “rainbow glow”. This is a great contrast pattern in a sea of white headlights. They are slightly scratch resistant too.
These stickers allows the reverse ambulance word to be seen in the dark. The shiny surfaces help drivers like you and me see better at night.
Mirror inscriptions of the ambulance text helps higher cerebral function. This simply means that the person seeing the mirror writing is actively using the core functions of his / her brain to further interpret the situation through vision and hearing, as well as reasoning and emotions.
Basically using more of your five human senses.
Reflective coating and reflective striping are also added to the ambulance vehicle and signage over a large surface area. For example, the striped and checkbox patterns.
The increased surface of reflectivity also helps greatly with visibility especially at night with the higher proportion of light reflected over a wider view range.
At the end of the day when there is more reflective coating applied on the surface of the ambulance emergency vehicle, vehicle visibility is improved and reduces chances of accidents.
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An active duty ambulance responding in emergencies signals itself using two main ways to other road users and drivers.
Sirens are usually set at least 100 decibels.
This level of volume is equivalent to hearing a plane take off at close distance. This creates awareness of the ambulance vehicle and drivers ahead of it can yield the right of way.
Flashing blue and red lights catch the attention of drivers around and the backward spelt text on the ambulance vehicle confirms that the vehicle is in fact an ambulance.
The lights are only switched on when necessary. In some situations, light are turned off – even midway during the transport to the hospital.
Having the reverse text ECNALUBMA / AMBULANCE in the mirror (above the driver’s head) avoids the need to look backward.
At the end of the day, as an ambulance service, I want to get to the destination quick. I want to go fast, but safe. Yet, I have already done all I could to signal to other road users & drivers but they don’t listen.
What can I do..?
We are already EMERGENCY SERVICES.
We don’t want to cause an accident and make your medical bill bigger!
This post was last modified on March 17, 2021 5:47 pm