Auto Accidents Involving Emergency Vehicles

September 3, 2012

Auto Accidents

accidents involving emergency vehiclesApproximately 200 people a year are killed in crashes involving emergency response vehicles.  This includes accidents with Emergency Medical Services (EMS) vehicles, and police and fire emergency responders.  Thousands more are injured in these types of accidents, according to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

In 2009, NHTSA data shows ambulances were involved in auto accidents which resulted in 918 total injuries throughout the U.S.  These accidents occurred when lights and sirens were in use.

Why do these accidents happen?  How can they be avoided?  What should you do if you are involved in an accident with an emergency vehicle?

First of all, be aware that there are generally different causes for each auto crash. The driver of the emergency response vehicle may not have to obey the usual traffic rules if he is transporting someone, but this does not guarantee that the emergency vehicle driver is not the negligent party.  Malfunctioning traffic lights may also contribute to the accident and poorly maintained emergency vehicles can be responsible.

In a 2011 Information Paper, The Technology Council of the International Association of Fire Chiefs cited lack of awareness by motorists of the presence of responding emergency vehicles as “a recurring cause” for the accidents.

This study also pointed to more effective soundproofing of private vehicles as another cause for the emergency vehicle accidents.  The soundproofing makes it more difficult to hear outside the automobile when one is inside it, thus reducing the efficiency of emergency warning devices.

Another contributing factor, according to the Technology Council, is the growing number of Americans who suffer some loss of hearing.  This, in combination with better insulated vehicles and the driver’s attention focused on the internal rather than the external environment can add up to more car/emergency vehicle accidents.

Ohio drivers are required by law to yield to an emergency vehicle and move as far to the right as possible, including moving off the roadway if it is safe to do so.

In Akron, Ohio, a young woman is facing serious charges from an intersection crash in April which involved an ambulance whose lights and siren were not in use. (The ambulance was transferring a hospital patient and was not required to use its lights and siren.) One of the woman’s passengers was killed in the auto accident.  The police performed an investigatory reconstruction of the accident and indicated the young woman failed to stop at a malfunctioning traffic light and was going over the speed limit.  The traffic light was malfunctioning due to a power outage.

The case is pending and the young woman’s attorney has stated he will commission a second crash reconstruction to prove her innocence.

Accidents with emergency vehicles often require a thorough investigation.  An Ohio attorney who is experienced with this type of accident, which is often complex, is the person you want to talk with.

At Slater & Zurz LLC our experienced accident attorneys will help you sort out what happened and assure you are treated fairly by all parties. If you have been in an auto accident anywhere in Ohio, please contact Slater & Zurz LLP for a free consultation by calling 1-800-297-9191 or send a Blog Message to schedule a time to talk.

To learn more about car accidents and personal injury type cases, please visit

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About slaterzurz

Slater & Zurz LLP is an Ohio law firm of highly experienced and respected attorneys. Over the last 40 years, we have developed a reputation for getting positive results for clients. We've been trusted with handling over 20,000 personal injury cases and our clients have received more than $120,000,000.

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