Emergency vehicles are allowed a little leeway with traffic laws, but that doesn’t mean they’re totally exempt. Click here to see what laws the must obey.

Safety Standards for Emergency Vehicle Drivers

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Ambulance speeding down the roadEmergency vehicles are designed to get to citizens in need quickly. Whether the vehicle is a fire truck, police cruiser, or ambulance, the basic traffic rule for non-emergency vehicles is to slow down and pull over to allow emergency vehicles to pass. When a civilian vehicle fails to follow this rule and collides into or causes the emergency vehicle to crash, the civilian will be held liable for the accident. However, when a collision occurs with an emergency vehicle (EV), it isn’t always the civilian driver’s fault.

Emergency Vehicle Driving Rules

It’s easy to understand why emergency vehicles need to have the right of way when responding to an incident. The drivers of these vehicles need a clear path to make it to their destinations quickly. After all, a few seconds could make the difference between life and death. However, just because they have the right of way doesn’t mean they can endanger lives on their way.

When an EV driver is not responding to an emergency call, he must obey all traffic and safety laws. If he fails to do so and a collision occurs as a result of his negligence, he will be just as liable as if he were driving his own car. Furthermore, when an EV is involved in any type of accident while between responses, the status of the vehicle will not be taken into account. In other words, an EV will be treated the same and subject to the same liability rules as a regular car when it isn’t responding to an emergency.

An EV responding to an emergency call is afforded leniency with traffic laws and regulations—allowed to speed and run red lights—but the driver still must follow certain key safety rules. All EV drivers must maintain control of their vehicles at all times and remain cautious of the general public. Strictly speaking, although the general public should create a clear path when they see an emergency vehicle, EV drivers must always still conduct their driving as safely and guardedly as possible. For instance:

  • Intersections and red lights. Despite the fact that cross-traffic should remain stopped as an EV approaches an intersection, EV drivers must still slow down to make sure that nothing is in their path. Assuming traffic will stop is risky and not safe.
  • Turns. Again, despite the assumption that the coast is clear, EV drivers must use caution and common sense when turning corners at high speeds. It can be difficult for pedestrians and other drivers to see an EV when it approaches at an angle, and therefore may not be able to pull off or slowdown. Therefore, it is up to the EV driver to maintain caution.
  • Hills and curves. Although EV drivers have the right to speed, this right doesn’t give them the allowance to drive recklessly. When an EV driver approaches a curve or hill, he must use appropriate measures to maintain control of the vehicle. Otherwise, he risks spinouts, rollovers, rear-end collisions, and passing accidents

Consequences of Negligence

If an EV driver fails to conduct himself in a safe manner and follow the common-sense rules of the trade, he can single-handedly put himself, his passengers, and the general public at serious risk. It’s understandable that EVs are allowed certain exemptions but that doesn’t mean that they’re immune to accident liability.

If you believe that the negligence of an EV driver directly resulted in your accident injuries, give us a call at 1.800.636.3676 for a FREE consultation and review of your case. Emergency personnel are supposed to help and protect the general public, not add to the pain and suffering. Allow us to help you remind them of that by filing a personal injury claim to pursue the compensation your recovery needs.

Category: Car Accidents


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