Wrecks Involving Emergency VehiclesFebruary 15, 2019
Law enforcement officers and emergency vehicle drivers protect the public, but when doing their jobs, they may unintentionally place others in danger. High-speed chases and emergency situations can lead to high driving speeds and reckless driving, which can cause accidents.
These vehicles and drivers face increased risks because in emergencies, time is of the essence. If a fire truck arrives at the scene too late, lives can be lost. This also holds true for patients in ambulances with life-threatening injuries, and police officers rushing to stop a crime. When these kinds of vehicles end up in crashes, serious or fatal injuries can result. Victims can be drivers, passengers, pedestrians, cyclists, and emergency personnel.
Ambulance and EMT Accidents
In 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and North-Western National published studies that analyzed U.S. ambulance accidents. These revealed that out of approximately 1,500 yearly ambulance accidents, about 2,600 people were hurt. Sixty-three percent of those fatally injured in these accidents were inside another passenger vehicle, and 21 percent were ambulance passengers. Furthermore, 60 percent of these crashes happened while the ambulance was being used for an emergency. Over a 20-year period, these reports showed that on average, there are 33 fatalities per year from ambulance crashes.
USA Today reported that police chases can lead to as many fatalities as police shootings. From 1979 to 2013, passengers in pursued vehicles plus bystanders made up almost 50 percent of people fatally injured in those chases. The article stated that when police pursue offenders, the drivers often speed and drive in reckless manners. NHTSA statistics show that during that 34-year period, over 11,500 people were fatally injured. In many cases, these drivers are only guilty of minor offenses. In 1990, the Justice Department called for police departments to have set guidelines for when officers can take up chase. Even so, there were 322 fatalities related to police chases in 2013.
Fire trucks are very large and more difficult to maneuver, which makes driving in traffic and dealing with intersections challenging. According to the United States Fire Administration, between 2004 and 2013, 179 firefighters lost their lives in crashes. Between 1996 and 2012, they reported 228 civilian injuries and 137 civilian fatalities from fire trucks and fire service vehicles.
Strategies for Reducing Accidents
Weather conditions, multitasking, busy roads, and time pressures create accident risks for innocent bystanders and emergency responders. When emergencies occur, personnel are told to use Code 3 running procedures. This allows them to drive faster than speed limits, cross traffic signals and stop signs, and use warning sirens and lights. This is when the risk of danger increases.
Certain safety precautions may reduce the risk of injuries and fatalities from ambulance accidents, such as wearing seat belts, securing equipment, and driving carefully in bad weather conditions. It is also essential for responders to be thoroughly trained and tested, and to maintain contact with colleagues while working an emergency. Others that share the roads should pay attention to emergency lights, signals and sirens, and move out of the way when it is safe.
Baltimore Car Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Victims Involved in Emergency Vehicle Accidents
If you suffered injuries from a car accident, the Baltimore car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton can help. We will hold the negligent party accountable for your injuries so that you can focus on your recovery. Call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or complete an online form for a free consultation.
Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Towson, allowing us to represent car accident victims in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.