Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Police Vehicle Collides with Van: Rights of Emergency Vehicles

On April 30, 2010, at approximately 1:30 p.m. a Maryland State Trooper was involved in an automobile accident on US 15 in Frederick County, Maryland. The trooper was responding to a motorcycle collision that also occurred on US 15 wherein the motorcyclist was injured. The trooper was driving south in his patrol car with his emergency lights and sirens activated when he approached the intersection of Mountville Road. The driver of a Honda Odyssey entered the intersection as the patrol car approached. Although the trooper took evasive action in an effort to avoid colliding with the van, the patrol car struck the van. The trooper and his passenger were taken to Frederick Memorial Hospital. The van driver was not injured.

Emergency vehicles have their own set of rules to which they adhere while driving. The law clearly states that emergency vehicles such as police cars, ambulances, or fire trucks cannot be held to the same standard of care as other drivers. Designated emergency vehicles that are responding to an emergency have special privileges. For instance, they are permitted to exceed the speed limit (so long as they do not endanger other drivers), pass a red light or stop sign, and disregard traffic control devices. However, it is important to keep in mind that these privileges only exist if the responding vehicle is using its audible and visual signals, except in the even event that the police vehicle is not equipped with such signals. None of the above apply if the police are not operating in an emergency capacity.

Moreover, accidents involving the failure to yield to the right of way, and stopping for appropriate traffic markers, are more common then most realize. When a person fails to yield to the right of way or crosses a lane of travel, they often cause a collision that is ultimately their fault. It is imperative to know and understand the rules of the road.

If you, a family member, or someone you know has been involved in a car accident with an emergency vehicle or if you would like more information on automobile accidents, please contact Portner & Shure. Our Maryland accident lawyers can provide a free legal consultation.

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