Police officers, ambulance drivers, or any other vehicle that are designated and authorized to respond to emergencies or life-threatening situations must often rush to their destination and therefore need the roadways as clear as possible. In some instances, they may be rushing up behind you – in other instances, they may even be headed toward you, having to cross over a double yellow line or even a grass divider since their lane is too congested. When you see red and blue lights and hear sirens near you, you may feel the need to make a rash decision – especially when you’re traveling at a high speed. You may freeze up and not know what to do.
You might think it’s okay to keep driving, or to simply switch lanes. What you should really do is pull over in a safe spot that’s neither in the path of the emergency vehicle or the flow of traffic. When drivers on the road choose to keep moving, it prevents obstacles for emergency vehicles and takes away several avenues for them to reach their destination. They must also exercise extreme caution and due regard to keep everyone on the road, including themselves, safe from any accidents. In 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) released a study taken over the span of the 20 years prior. It revealed the staggering statistic that around there were 45,000 ambulance crashes on the road each year. 34% of these crashes resulted in injuries and 33 people were killed each year – 63% of which were the operators of the other vehicles, 4% ambulance drivers, 21% ambulance passengers, and 12% non-occupants. Your best bet is to pull over to the side to clear a path for the ambulance – and it would be best if all cars on the road did so as a group effort.
In essentially all cases where an emergency vehicle is in pursuit crashes into a car, the emergency vehicle cannot be held liable under New York State law. There are certain situations in which emergency services may be held liable, however: