Emergency vehicles are usually in a hurry to get somewhere. Imagine being that person on the stretcher in the back of the ambulance on the way to the hospital, or the homeowner who called the fire department to put out the flames, or the just robbed employee waiting for police. When you need that kind of help, each minute you wait can feel like an eternity. It’s one of the reasons you should be sure to regularly use your mirrors and not have your music turned up too high when you are behind the wheel. Drivers need to be able to see and hear emergency vehicles coming. We’ve all been surprised to see an ambulance or police vehicle right behind us – or even coming right at us. We’ve all wondered “how are they ever going to make it through this traffic?” Emergency responders rely on motorists to be paying attention and make them a lane. Firefighters, paramedics, and police officers use sirens and lights to let you know they’re close by, but that does not guarantee an accident-free zone. High speeds, traffic, and motorists’ confusion about what to do can put the safety of first responders, drivers, passengers of other vehicles, passengers of emergency vehicles, and pedestrians at risk. Emergency personnel are allowed to ignore traffic signals, drive the wrong way, pass cars unlawfully, and drive in other potentially dangerous ways that can contribute to the likelihood of a collision. Drivers of emergency vehicles can take traffic law liberties; however, they still have a commitment to public safety. They are expected to have good judgment. The question of who is at fault in a wreck involving an emergency vehicle is not cut and dried. If an emergency driver maneuvers through traffic in an unreasonably dangerous manner, it’s possible they can be found negligent and therefore responsible for any injuries associated with the crash. A few examples of such behavior include:
- Speeding through intersections without paying attention to surrounding vehicles
- Taking turns at high speeds
- Not using sirens and lights properly
- Following too closely
- Driving through spaces that are too narrow.