Drivers are being warned to prepare for the planned Emergency Alert system trial this weekend.

The UK wide test of the life-saving public Emergency Alerts system will take place at 3pm on Sunday, April 23.

The AA is warning motorists to be ready for the alert as it could cause a distraction for some drivers who are unaware of the test.

Lorna Lee, AA Campaigns Manager, said: “The testing of a national alert system is very welcome. This kind of warning system could be very useful in certain situations, such as extreme weather or extensive flooding.

“The test does bring certain risks though, which need to be managed. For drivers in particular, awareness of the test is vital to avoid any panic when it sounds.

“If you are driving when the alert sounds, you must not touch your phone to stop the alert as the normal driving laws still apply. Instead, wait for a safe place to pull over (not the hard shoulder nor Emergency Area), acknowledge the alert, and continue your journey.

“Some drivers may prefer to switch their phone off in advance if they know they will be driving during the alert test.”

AA advice for drivers for mobile phone alert test

  1. Know what is coming - it will be a unique tone and vibration lasting around 10 seconds, it will then stop
  2. Normal laws apply - you cannot touch the phone when behind the wheel to discard the alert
  3. Some cars will be able to stop the alert using the in-car systems. If not, you will need to find somewhere safe to pull over, switch off the engine and cancel the alert before being able to use Bluetooth/infotainment system
  4. Some may find it better to turn the phone off for an hour between 2.30 and 3.30 so they don't become distracted at all

Everything you need to know about Emergency Alert this Sunday

Everyone with a mobile phone will receive an alert on their home screens along with a sound and vibration for up to ten seconds.

During this test, the public does not need to take any action, and the sound and vibration will stop automatically after ten seconds.

All people will need to do is swipe away the message or click ‘OK’ on the alert to clear their home screen.

The alert will work just like a ‘low battery’ warning or notification, and the mobile phone will continue to work as normal.

Similar systems are already in place in countries such as the US, Canada, Netherlands and Japan, where best practice has shown that they work more effectively in a real emergency if people have previously received a test.

The system will be used very rarely - only being sent where there is an immediate risk to people’s lives - so people may not receive an alert for months or years.

In the UK, alerts could be used to tell residents of villages being encroached by wildfires, or of severe flooding.