Car Accidents Involving Emergency Vehicles
You are driving down the highway or sitting in traffic and you hear the blare of sirens approaching from the distance. In that particular moment, the actions you take could have serious ramifications. You risk preventing emergency workers from doing their duties, and put yourself at risk for car accidents and injuries. Unfortunately, collisions involving fire trucks, ambulances, and police cars are common, impacting thousands of people each year. The following offers important information on how common these accidents are, as well as steps to take when you encounter emergency vehicles on the road.
Emergency Vehicle Accidents
For police, fire, and EMS first responders, matters of life and death occur on a regular, even daily basis. They could be sitting in traffic or making their usual rounds, when a sudden situation calls for a quick response, requiring them to be completely across town in a matter of minutes. While authorized to exceed posted speeds and to disregard traffic signs and signals, doing so puts them and other motorists at risk.
Industry provider Emergency Alert Solutions reports that in terms of ambulances and fire trucks alone, nearly 10,000 vehicle accidents occur each year. In roughly half of all these cases, fatalities result, often due to the high rates of speed involved. These accidents also tend to occur in intersections, where drivers who have the right of way can get confused and may not be aware that they are required to stop or which direction an emergency responder is coming from.
Law enforcement officials also experience the same types of problems. Responding to reports of altercations or criminal activity, their top priority is reaching the scene. According to a 2017 NBC News report, with sophisticated dashboard systems diverting their attention, crashes and collisions involving police cruisers have increased over the last several years. In addition to involving innocent civilians, car accidents have become a leading cause of injuries and death among police officers.
What to Do when Confronted with an Emergency Vehicle
Regular motorists are often uncertain how to respond when they encounter emergency vehicles on the road, and their actions can end up making these accidents more likely to occur. Esurance advises that to protect your own safety as well as that of others on the road, it is important to do the following:
- Maintain a distance of between 300 to 500 feet when following an emergency vehicle;
- If one approaches from behind you, look carefully to ensure there is no opposing traffic before pulling over to let them pass.
- If one is approaching from the opposing lane, slow down and move as far to the right as possible. These vehicles often need to travel on the wrong side of the road to avoid traffic tie ups.
- If you are uncertain which direction the vehicle is coming from, slow down and look for clues from other drivers.
In the event an accident does occur, get the driver’s name and vehicle information. Get medical attention for your injuries, and call or contact Gregg Wexler at the Wexler Law Firm, P.A. online. Request a free consultation with our West Palm Beach car accident attorney, who can advise you on your rights to compensation.