OBJECTIVES To determine consultants' compliance with motor traffic regulations on recall to hospital to attend emergencies, and ownership and use of green warning lights (GWLs). To determine the views of senior police officers on consultants complying with traffic regulations on emergency recall with and without GWLs. METHOD Questionnaire survey of all consultants in obstetrics and gynaecology, paediatrics and emergency medicine in the Yorkshire Deanery, UK, and members of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). RESULTS 220 consultant questionnaires were distributed and 166 replies were received; 21% of respondents owned a GWL. Almost 50% of consultants would consider exceeding speed limits when returning to an emergency. Between 43% and 80% consultants would cross red traffic lights; driving habits varied with usage and ownership of a GWL. 12.7% (21) of respondents had been stopped for traffic violations attending emergencies, 2.4% (4) had been prosecuted and 4.8% (8) had been involved in accidents. The ACPO advised that consultants should observe all traffic regulations at all times. CONCLUSION Consultants recalled to their hospitals for emergencies disregard speed restrictions and traffic light signals both with and without GWLs and risk both accident and prosecution for ignoring traffic legislation. They should consider using a GWL to ease their progress through traffic when attending an emergency and observe all traffic laws.