Hearing emergency sirens can be jarring for drivers and pedestrians in California. However, emergency vehicles use their sirens and flashing lights to warn others their vehicles are speeding to an accident scene or another emergency. Ironically, an emergency vehicle might cause a crash when traveling to a destination. Such accidents may lead to fatalities.
The deadly dangers of emergency vehicles
2020 saw 180 people lose their lives in accidents involving emergency vehicles. More than half of those killed were people inside non-emergency vehicles. Some emergency vehicles’ massive size can inflict enormous damage to a smaller car, as would be the case with a fire truck hitting a sedan. However, traditional police vehicles were involved in collisions that led to 132 fatalities, the highest death total.
Emergency vehicles must respond to situations without delays, but that does not mean the driver should ignore all safety rules. Any emergency vehicle disabled after a multicar crash won’t reach its destination. Also, a driver’s negligence may lead to a lawsuit when injuries, fatalities or property damage result.
Negligence and emergency vehicle crashes
Observers may notice that police cars, fire trucks and ambulances may still slow down at an intersection, even though they blare their sirens from far away. Slowing down could reduce the chances of auto accidents. Many emergency vehicle drivers understand they cannot assume someone won’t still go through the intersection. The action could constitute negligence when an emergency vehicle driver doesn’t slow down and goes through an intersection or crosses over into oncoming traffic recklessly.
There are other ways an emergency vehicle driver could face liability claims. A driver under the influence would be an egregious example. A post-accident investigation may reveal the specific cause.