In the heat of the moment when an emergency vehicle is rushing to save lives, other motorists sharing the road must be highly cautious. Although ambulance drivers, police officers, and firefighters must observe safety laws, they often advance at high speeds to save lives, prevent crimes, and put out fires. Time is of the essence, and these situations can create chaos on the roads, leading to car accidents.
Emergency vehicle drivers must be well trained to drive in these kinds of circumstances. Keeping patients safe and/or arriving at the scene as quickly as possible are paramount – but doing so must not endanger others.
Emergency drivers may drive on shoulders, the wrong side of a road, go through red lights, and drive at high speeds. They must have the wherewithal to determine that these actions are wholly necessary, not reckless, and do not pose risks to others sharing the roads.
To help avoid accidents, emergency drivers should use sirens and flashing lights to alert motorists of their presence. They should also slow down when approaching intersections and ensure there is enough room when passing. Taking turns at high speeds can also be hazardous for both the emergency vehicle driver and others.
These vehicles are loud and have bright lights for a reason; but other drivers may sometimes panic. Motorists that see an approaching emergency vehicle should assess the situation carefully and move out of the way as soon as possible.
South Carolina’s Move Over Law states that other drivers must slow down and switch lanes for stopped emergency vehicles, tow trucks, police cars, and first responders. It is also important to pull over when safe to allow emergency vehicles to pass.
Slowing down, putting on hazard lights, and pulling over to the side of a road or into the shoulder are the proper protocol. If there is a red light ahead, driving through it is not recommended; it is better to slow down. Braking suddenly or haphazardly changing lanes could lead to a collision.
First responders save lives, and their services are needed and invaluable to society. Yet they can get into accidents, resulting in over 2,500 ambulance-related injuries every year, with high speed police pursuits causing an average of 300 deaths. When these unfortunate events happen, the question of responsibility comes into play.
Emergency vehicle accidents need to be handled in the same way as other motor vehicle wreck. Injured drivers and passengers should be attended to first; this may involve calling for additional ambulances. The police should also be contacted if not already there, and driver phone numbers, addresses, and insurance company information should be taken down. All details pertaining to the accident, including its location and weather conditions should be noted; any witnesses should be interviewed.
Initiating an auto accident claim against an emergency vehicle operator could become complicated depending on the circumstances and driver behavior. These vehicles may be government- or privately-owned, which could also impact how a claim is handled. For this reason, it is critical to consult a knowledgeable car accident lawyer in Columbia with experience handling these types of claims.
If you have been injured in a wreck with an emergency vehicle, you are entitled to certain rights. Contact a highly experienced Columbia car accident lawyer at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. for help with any type of car accident. Call 803-929-3600 or 800-531-9780, or complete an online form for a free case evaluation.
We serve clients throughout the state from our six South Carolina offices, including those in Columbia, Aiken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, Summerville, and throughout the areas of Lexington County, Richland County, Sumter County, Charleston County, Aiken County, Florence County, Lancaster County, York County, Spartanburg County, Orangeburg County, Kershaw County, and Newberry County.