Accidents Involving Emergency Vehicles
When there is a serious car accident, a fire, or another emergency that requires a police officer, an ambulance, or a fire truck, these vehicles rush to the scene, often with lights flashing and sirens blazing. Oftentimes, they must navigate heavy traffic, avoid other vehicles and pedestrians, and bypass traffic signals to quickly and safely reach the person or people in need of help. However, because of the high speed at which these vehicles are traveling, and the unsafe maneuvers they are often forced to make, emergency vehicles are responsible for causing thousands of serious accidents every year.
Studies show that vehicle fatality rates for emergency responders are nearly 4.8 times higher than the national average. This is largely because the emergency vehicle involved is often traveling at a high speed, which makes the force of impact that much more severe, and the injuries more serious. While it is the emergency responder’s job to arrive at the scene as quickly as possible, it is also in the public’s best interest that they arrive there safely, without jeopardizing the safety of other motorists.
Accident Statistics for Common Emergency Vehicles
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and other safety officials conducted a series of studies that examined accident reports involving the following emergency vehicles:
- Ambulance Accidents: Studies show that there are approximately 6,500 ambulance accidents in the United States each year, and that emergency medical personnel are at greater risk of being in an accident compared to other emergency responders.
- Fire Truck Accidents: These are the second leading cause of job-related fatalities for firefighters. The NHTSA found that approximately 31,600 fire truck accidents occurred over a 10-year period. Many of these accidents were caused by rollovers from making sharp turns at high speeds. Many of these accidents occurred in emergency settings.
- Police Car Accidents: A police vehicle report revealed that a person is fatally injured every day in pursuit-related accidents, and that over 30 percent of fatalities involved victims who were not involved in the pursuit. Police officers are twice as likely to be involved in a motor vehicle accident compared to the general public.
Common Causes of Emergency Vehicle Accidents
Emergency responders all have certain factors in common that can increase their chances of being involved in an accident, including the following:
- Pressure to safely arrive at the scene as quickly as possible can be very stressful. In addition, long hours, the use of flashing lights and sirens, and multi-tasking numerous activities at one time increases the chance of serious accidents.
- Emergency responders must obtain special skills for them to safely operate an ambulance, firetruck, or police car. Firetrucks and ambulances are larger and heavier than regular passenger vehicles, and police cars tend to have more powerful engines.
- Intersections, complex roadway designs, and weather conditions can cause hazardous driving conditions when rushing to an emergency.
- If an emergency responder is distracted while driving, this can cause a serious accident, particularly if the emergency vehicle hits a pedestrian or cyclist.
Rules to Follow When an Emergency Vehicle Approaches
If a police car, ambulance, or fire truck approaches from either direction, motorists in the vicinity must yield the right of way. Drive to a position parallel to the edge of the road, or as close as possible to the curb to give the emergency vehicle room to pass. In some cases, motorists will be directed to stop, and stay in that spot until the emergency vehicle has passed. Other drivers may not pass an emergency vehicle, unless otherwise directed by a police officer.
Baltimore Car Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Victims of Emergency Vehicle Accidents
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a car accident involving an emergency vehicle, you are urged to contact the Baltimore car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton as soon as possible. Emergency responders have a responsibility to safely navigate traffic to avoid endangering others on the road. We will investigate the details of your case and ensure that your legal rights are protected. Our dedicated team will secure the maximum financial compensation you deserve for your injuries. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
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.