When emergency vehicles speed down roads with their lights and sirens on, other drivers usually make room by pulling to the side or off the roadway. Police cars, fire engines, and ambulances must often ignore traffic rules when time is of the essence, and they act quickly to get where they are going. However, their need for speed can lead to accidents with other vehicles. Although these responders can disregard traffic regulations during an emergency, they must follow traffic laws if there is no sense of urgency.
Driving in an Emergency Situation
Other drivers should always give way for emergency vehicles, and when these accidents happen, others may feel that civilian drivers are at fault. This is not always true; even though emergency vehicle drivers must take risks at times, they must be justifiable. When responding to an emergency, they must be responsible and exhibit due care to others that share the roads. The following are a few guidelines:
- Police cars, ambulances and fire trucks are not obligated to stick to the speed limit when they are responding to an emergency. However, the driver must have complete control of their vehicle during this time.
- These vehicles may pass through red lights during an emergency, but only if stopping or slowing would impede the response time. To pass through, they are required to use their lights and sirens to warn others.
- The safety of everyone else on the road takes priority.
Causes of Crashes
If an emergency vehicle driver does not use their lights and sirens when running traffic lights, others may not realize that they are approaching. There have also been cases where drivers run red lights when there is no real emergency. Emergency drivers are also subject to a variety of distractions, including communications from other responders and dispatchers, poor weather conditions, and traffic congestion.
This line of work can also be quite stressful, as these drivers deal with dangerous scenarios that can be life-threatening, such as fires, severely injured patients, natural disasters, and criminal activities. Many also face long working hours, which can lead to fatigue and poor judgement. When the weather is bad, this increases the chances of an accident.
The Question of Liability
If an emergency vehicle driver ends up in a traffic accident, they do not have special rights that protect them from liability; they are subject to the same rules of the road as other vehicles. Therefore, the other drivers or pedestrians involved may be able to prove that the emergency vehicle driver was at fault. If an accident occurs, the first step is to obtain medical care if needed. Exchanging contact information, taking photographs, and recording eyewitness testimony from anyone that saw the accident can be helpful for building a case. Keeping records of any medical treatment and vehicle repairs is also suggested.
Delaware County Car Accident Lawyers at Eckell Sparks Represent Car Accident Victims
If you were involved in an accident with an emergency vehicle, you may be entitled to compensation. For a free case evaluation, call an experienced Delaware County car accident lawyer at Eckell, Sparks, Levy, Auerbach, Monte, Sloane, Matthews & Auslander, P.C. at 610-565-3701 or contact us online. Located in Media and West Chester, Pennsylvania, we represent clients in Delaware County, Chester County, and Montgomery County.