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alberchico
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Who Would Be At Fault Here? (ambulance Vs Car)

Mon Dec 01, 2014 1:32 am

In some countries like Russia ambulances tend to blow through a red light at high speed expecting all other traffic to give way, leading to many crashes, but in other cities like NYC ambulances slow down and even stop before crossing a heavily trafficked intersection.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVJpuOdFdxc

So if an ambulance blows through a red light with its lights and sirens on and a car collides with it who is at fault ?
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RE: Who Would Be At Fault Here? (ambulance Vs Car)

Mon Dec 01, 2014 1:36 am

Quoting alberchico (Thread starter):
So if an ambulance blows through a red light with its lights and sirens on and a car collides with it who is at fault ?

The ambulance. Emergency vehicles bear the responsibility of ensuring it is safe to run red lights, etc.
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RE: Who Would Be At Fault Here? (ambulance Vs Car)

Mon Dec 01, 2014 2:09 am

I take it that in Russia, ambulances do not have a remote control device that switches the traffic lights into their favor like most American ambulances do?

Here in the US, I think more and more ambulances have figured out that saving a few minutes on the drive is not worth the extra risk involved on saving the life of the passenger being carried. I rarely see an ambulance going over the speed limit and not hesitate when approaching an intersection. Perhaps that may be that ambulances are carrying more sophisticated equipment that reduces the time sensitivity of the patient?
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RE: Who Would Be At Fault Here? (ambulance Vs Car)

Mon Dec 01, 2014 2:17 am

Quoting alberchico (Thread starter):
So if an ambulance blows through a red light with its lights and sirens on and a car collides with it who is at fault ?


The first driver´s license I got in the US was in Virginia. We had to study a booklet, take a test etc. But, the rules in the booklet clearly stated that the ambulance (and other emergency vehicles) has the right of way and that you as a driver are supposed to stop and let it pass. I suppose that applies to intersections if the ambulance is coming at speed with lights and sirens. I would say it´s the driver´s fault.
 
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RE: Who Would Be At Fault Here? (ambulance Vs Car)

Mon Dec 01, 2014 2:36 am

This:

Quoting LittleFokker (Reply 2):
I take it that in Russia, ambulances do not have a remote control device that switches the traffic lights into their favor like most American ambulances do?

And this:

Quoting LittleFokker (Reply 2):
I rarely see an ambulance going over the speed limit and not hesitate when approaching an intersection.

Ambulances can switch many lights to their favor and in addition pretty much stop at any each intersection that may but in question.

I am really amazed at the Russian video, the drivers there seem to exhibit a level of recklessness that is ridiculous and certainly dangerous. I know bad accidents occur everywhere and that the ones in the video are a compilation but an ambulance driver is a professional, they must know better and be better drivers. (Also it seems like the Russian ambulances tip over far to easily but then again they are slamming into cars at high speed.)

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RE: Who Would Be At Fault Here? (ambulance Vs Car)

Mon Dec 01, 2014 2:48 am

As more fire depts. in the US become fire and rescue, a big red truck could be the first emergency vehicle on the scene, oddly enough. Ambulances are usually late comers, and I wouldn't think need to speed unless they have a patient who can only be saved in hospital. I wouldn't want to tangle with a hook and ladder racing to a heart attack victim as the first responder. That said ...

Quoting alberchico (Thread starter):
So if an ambulance blows through a red light with its lights and sirens on and a car collides with it who is at fault ?

It's the responsibility of the non-emergency vehicle driver to be able to hear an approaching siren while driving, and give the right of way. Always.
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RE: Who Would Be At Fault Here? (ambulance Vs Car)

Mon Dec 01, 2014 2:58 am

I think all emergency personnel understand that they have the right of way and "should" be able to go through a red light without slowing down. I also believe they understand that there are idiots on the street who will have their heads in the clouds and not be aware of those flashing lights and sirens. Those drivers will turn on the lights and sirens but they want to get through the day in one piece so they are going to slow down and double check their intersections.
 
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RE: Who Would Be At Fault Here? (ambulance Vs Car)

Mon Dec 01, 2014 5:09 am

Here in Australia it is a requirement that motorists slow down and pull over to let emergency vehicles with lights flashing and sirens sounding where possible and without breaking the law. For example, a motorist may not run a red traffic light so that an ambulance can follow through.

Drivers of emergency vehicles are only exempted from provisions of the Road Code where they are:
a) driving with due care and attention; and
b) it is reasonable that a provision of the Code should not apply; and
c) the vehicle is being driven in an official capacity with flashing red or blue lights and its siren or horn sounding.

So an ambulance driver would not normally proceed through a red traffic light without first checking that it is safe to do so, particularly in a built-up area where visibilty at intersections may be restricted.
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RE: Who Would Be At Fault Here? (ambulance Vs Car)

Mon Dec 01, 2014 5:35 am

Here in New Zealand (just like Australia and many other countries), the responding emergency vehicle must slow down/stop and only enter the intersection if safe to.

Even if a driver is responding priority 1 (lights and sirens), he/she is still responsible to drive to the conditions. An emergency vehicle can drive up to 30kmh over the limit but the driver faces the risk of charges if something goes wrong
and could face charges if they are found at fault.

Last year a fire appliance in Auckland failed to check an intersection was clear and collided with a vehicle who would normally have right of way. The driver of the fire appliance was charged with careless driving as he failed to ensure it was safe to proceed.
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RE: Who Would Be At Fault Here? (ambulance Vs Car)

Mon Dec 01, 2014 5:38 am

Quoting ElanusNotatus (Reply 8):
So an ambulance driver would not normally proceed through a red traffic light without first checking that it is safe to do so, particularly in a built-up area where visibilty at intersections may be restricted.

This. As a driver, I am not expected to slow down and/or stop at each green light to see if an ambulance is coming from the side who would be running a red light. If the light is red, as far as I know it's still the ambulance's responsibility if they're going through. If it's always the other drivers' responsibility, you could in theory never be able to go through a green light without stopping or nearly stopping to check for emergency vehicles coming from the cross street.
 
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RE: Who Would Be At Fault Here? (ambulance Vs Car)

Mon Dec 01, 2014 6:32 am

Quoting AeroWesty (Reply 5):
It's the responsibility of the non-emergency vehicle driver to be able to hear an approaching siren while driving, and give the right of way. Always.

It's their responsibility/requirement to slow down, but it doesn't mean they always do. We have people that are stupid enough to race trains through a crossing too.
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RE: Who Would Be At Fault Here? (ambulance Vs Car)

Mon Dec 01, 2014 1:38 pm

Quoting AeroWesty (Reply 5):
Quoting alberchico (Thread starter):
So if an ambulance blows through a red light with its lights and sirens on and a car collides with it who is at fault ?


It's the responsibility of the non-emergency vehicle driver to be able to hear an approaching siren while driving, and give the right of way. Always.

This. It depends on the jurisdiction too. MO law demands that whenever an emergency vehicle has siren on, it should be given the right of way. That doesn't mean, however, that the emergency vehicle can drive recklessly.

In PR we are also required to give emergency vehicles the right of way, but we've had too many cases of "Boy crying wolf" where these personnel are stuck in traffic and then, just to get out, turn on the sirens. As soon as they're clear of the intersection or traffic jam, sirens go off. Heck, we have a law that forbids driving on the right shoulder lane (aka emergency stop lane) yet we see cops driving on it without sirens or anything (a cop once tried to give me a ticket because at a toll booth I would not let him get in front of me...and he had no sirens or anything).
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RE: Who Would Be At Fault Here? (ambulance Vs Car)

Mon Dec 01, 2014 7:03 pm

Here's my take on it, having been a certified fire apparatus and ambulance operator:

The ambulance driver is at fault...at least in any jurisdiction I can think of here in the US.

When driving code 3 (lights and sirens) it is the responsibility of the emergency vehicle operator (EVO) to show due regard for safety. That means slowing and coming to a full stop, if necessary, at any intersection where the emergency vehicle must cross against the light (or against any traffic control device) until it is verified that all other traffic has stopped. That also means the EVO slows down when approaching any busy intersection, regardless of what the lights look like.

It also means, at least in the 2 jurisdictions that I was certified in, a maximum of 10 MPH above the speed limit on local roads and 15 MPH over on the interstate.

If these rules are not followed, and a wreck occurs, there can be criminal charges (doubtful) and civil suits (likely).

Driving is a team sport where, if everyone follows the rules, no one should get hurt. By definition and EVO running code 3 is violating those rules. That means the EVO must exercise caution and show due regard for safety.

Quoting LittleFokker (Reply 2):
I take it that in Russia, ambulances do not have a remote control device that switches the traffic lights into their favor like most American ambulances do?

The emergency services in this area do not have these devices. I think the closest municipality that uses them in Cincinnati. They are not universally used in the US.

Quoting AR385 (Reply 3):
The first driver´s license I got in the US was in Virginia. We had to study a booklet, take a test etc. But, the rules in the booklet clearly stated that the ambulance (and other emergency vehicles) has the right of way and that you as a driver are supposed to stop and let it pass. I suppose that applies to intersections if the ambulance is coming at speed with lights and sirens. I would say it´s the driver´s fault.

You are incorrect.

Quoting Ken777 (Reply 6):
I think all emergency personnel understand that they have the right of way and "should" be able to go through a red light without slowing down.

No, all emergency personnel understand that they do not have the 'right of way' until it is yielded to them. The law compels other drivers to yield, but many factors play into why that doesn't happen.
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RE: Who Would Be At Fault Here? (ambulance Vs Car)

Mon Dec 01, 2014 8:36 pm

Quoting AeroWesty (Reply 5):
As more fire depts. in the US become fire and rescue, a big red truck could be the first emergency vehicle on the scene, oddly enough. Ambulances are usually late comers, and I wouldn't think need to speed unless they have a patient who can only be saved in hospital.

Is this because ambulances may be coming from hospitals? Hospitals would on average be farther away than fire stations from any given point.

Ambulances cannot just blast through intersections unless it is safe to do so. It is not your job to magically anticipate an ambulance crossing your path. First you have to see it. Then, after you slow down and yield, it can cross. An emergency vehicle with lights is like a yield sign. It has the right-of-way conditional on your ability to stop. If you don't have an opportunity to stop then it does not have the right-of-way. If they got the right of way, and you smack them, you are at fault.
 
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RE: Who Would Be At Fault Here? (ambulance Vs Car)

Mon Dec 01, 2014 8:39 pm

Quoting fr8mech (Reply 13):
You are incorrect.

About my conclusion or about what the DMV in Virginia says?
 
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RE: Who Would Be At Fault Here? (ambulance Vs Car)

Mon Dec 01, 2014 9:45 pm

Quoting AR385 (Reply 15):

Your conclusion. You are correct, that VA, along with other, if not all other states, require a driver to yield the right-of-way to an emergency vehicle operating on a run, the pertinent law also stipulates that the EVO will exercise due regard for safety. In fact, VA specifically says:

This provision shall not relieve the driver of any such vehicle to which the right-of-way is to be yielded of the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons using the highway, nor shall it protect the driver of any such vehicle from the consequences of an arbitrary exercise of such right-of-way.
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RE: Who Would Be At Fault Here? (ambulance Vs Car)

Mon Dec 01, 2014 10:22 pm

These crash videos from Russia are just mesmerizing. The best part is the reaction of other drivers and nearby pedestrians, they just don't give two craparonies. Massive crash bang right in front of your face and your first words are "look Dimitri, like I was telling you there's a fine vodka bar just around the corner, just step over this stupid ambulance with the bleeding bodies inside and we'll be there in five minutes. You can meet my friend Nadia, she's a lovely girl..bit first let's get that broken glass and the severed foot out of your hat."
 
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RE: Who Would Be At Fault Here? (ambulance Vs Car)

Tue Dec 02, 2014 2:47 am

Also at airports the emergency vehicles are required to have clearance from ground control.
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RE: Who Would Be At Fault Here? (ambulance Vs Car)

Tue Dec 02, 2014 3:03 am

Quoting wingman (Reply 17):
The best part is the reaction of other drivers and nearby pedestrians, they just don't give two craparonies.

What is really baffling to me is the REAL bad luck of the ambulance patient. Not only do you get involve in something that requires an emergency ride in an ambulance, but even then, you have an accident in THE VERY SAME AMBULANCE. It must really be one of those days when syou should not have gotten out of bed.

Quoting fr8mech (Reply 16):
Your conclusion. You are correct, that VA, along with other, if not all other states, require a driver to yield the right-of-way to an emergency vehicle operating on a run, the pertinent law also stipulates that the EVO will exercise due regard for safety. In fact, VA specifically says:

This provision shall not relieve the driver of any such vehicle to which the right-of-way is to be yielded of the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons using the highway, nor shall it protect the driver of any such vehicle from the consequences of an arbitrary exercise of such right-of-way.

Understood. Thank you for explaining. I get the impression though, from what I´ve read in the thread and the regulations, that lawyers would have a field day in court if this happened in the US.
 
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RE: Who Would Be At Fault Here? (ambulance Vs Car)

Tue Dec 02, 2014 5:31 am

Quoting AR385 (Reply 19):
Understood. Thank you for explaining. I get the impression though, from what I´ve read in the thread and the regulations, that lawyers would have a field day in court if this happened in the US.

Here's what happens:

-Police will file charges, especially if the emergency vehicle involved is a police vehicle.
-Civilian will file a civil suit against the department for medical expenses and damages, lots of damages.
-Assuming there were no deaths or serious injuries, everything gets settled out of court and the charges get dropped.
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RE: Who Would Be At Fault Here? (ambulance Vs Car)

Tue Dec 02, 2014 6:28 am

You can be deaf (and remember there are more and more old people on the roads) and have a driving license so putting the siren on isn't enough to drive through intersections without looking. Depending on your vehicle and the ones around (small hatchback surrounded by SUVs with black windows...), and the speed at which the ambulance is coming, you might see the lights at the last minute, too.

In France things are quite confusing between what is and what isn't an emergency vehicle, the various types of lights and sirens, even though it's the same thing all over the country. In practice I see myself yielding mainly to police (including plain clothes ones) and to red emergency vehicles, not the white ones with "ambulance" written on them. Not that I wouldn't yield, it's just not the ones I encounter sirens blaring.
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RE: Who Would Be At Fault Here? (ambulance Vs Car)

Mon Dec 15, 2014 5:33 pm

When I was in high school one of my classmates was in a car accident with an ambulance with lights and sirens on. It was even on the local news in Kansas City implying he was at fault due to his age and how all motorists should know to yield to an ambulance. Turned out the ambulance blew thru the intersection against a red light at high speed giving cross traffic no time to react. I believe it was settled out of court with the patient in the back and my classmate so the ambulance company didn't have to admit wrong doing. That classmate is now a Doctor in Ohio btw.
 
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RE: Who Would Be At Fault Here? (ambulance Vs Car)

Tue Dec 16, 2014 4:45 pm

Quoting BMI727 (Reply 1):
The ambulance. Emergency vehicles bear the responsibility of ensuring it is safe to run red lights, etc.

Correct. As stated by others earlier, as the driver of an emergency vehicle, we are required to clear an intersection (stopping if needed) in order proceed past a red light/stop sign.

Quoting AeroWesty (Reply 5):
It's the responsibility of the non-emergency vehicle driver to be able to hear an approaching siren while driving, and give the right of way. Always.

If one is approaching you from behind, most definitely. If you are driving along and have a green light, you should not be expected to assume an emergency vehicle is about to blow a red light. Now if the emergency vehicle is slowing down and stopping for the light before proceeding, yes, you should yield the right of way.

And yes, I have ticketed drivers who don't pull over when I'm behind them blaring sirens and air horn. (Only if they're blatantly ignoring me or clueless I'm even there)
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RE: Who Would Be At Fault Here? (ambulance Vs Car)

Tue Dec 16, 2014 5:57 pm

Emergency vehicles with flashing lights and horn always have the right of way. No matter how fast they are. If you run into them, it's your fault.

It would be even your fault if the ambulance came sliding backwards, on the roof, on the wrong lane...

But here in Europe, they always slow down as a matter of their own safety. The time the ambulance loses does not matter. One can only save a marginal amount of lives by driving reckless.

And after picking up the patient, the nature of their injuries sometimes dictates very slow driving. Ambulances are heavy, have a hard suspension and will thus sometimes swerve in order to avoid manhole covers. And today you don't wish to rush somebody to the hospital either. You stabilize the patient at the accident site.


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RE: Who Would Be At Fault Here? (ambulance Vs Car)

Tue Dec 16, 2014 10:35 pm

Quoting flyingturtle (Reply 23):
It would be even your fault if the ambulance came sliding backwards, on the roof, on the wrong lane...

Can you cite the relevant law?

Quoting fr8mech (Reply 15):
This provision shall not relieve the driver of any such vehicle to which the right-of-way is to be yielded of the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons using the highway, nor shall it protect the driver of any such vehicle from the consequences of an arbitrary exercise of such right-of-way.

And California:

21807. The provisions of Section 21806 shall not operate to relieve the driver of an authorized
emergency vehicle from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons and property.


I'm guessing most other states are the same.
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RE: Who Would Be At Fault Here? (ambulance Vs Car)

Tue Dec 16, 2014 11:15 pm

Quoting zckls04 (Reply 24):
Can you cite the relevant law?

It's in the Verkehrsregelnverordnung (traffic rules decree), article 16. I'll translate, as there isn't an English version online:

§ 16: Vehicles having the right of way

1 Every road user must cede the right of way to the vehicles of firefighters, ambulance, police and customs if they use blue flashing light and the signal horn; this applies also when traffic is directed by light signals.


*How* they are driving does not matter. They have the right of way as long as they use the horn and the flashing light.

The same is when you're on a parking lot, and about to drive onto the road. The traffic on the road has always the right of way. When somebody drives on the road in an illegal manner - too fast, backwards, sliding on the roof, alcoholized, without driving licence, brakes that have been last inspected back in 1943 - and there's a collision between you and that imbecile, you are at fault.


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RE: Who Would Be At Fault Here? (ambulance Vs Car)

Wed Dec 17, 2014 12:47 am

Quoting fr8mech (Reply 12):
The emergency services in this area do not have these devices. I think the closest municipality that uses them in Cincinnati. They are not universally used in the US.

Wow, we have them in Anchorage and survived a big stink a couple of years back to equip our busses with them to speed them up on their routes

Quoting BMI727 (Reply 17):
Also at airports the emergency vehicles are required to have clearance from ground control.

Only on the AOA. And actually I want to say tower, not ground controls runway access. Usually when an aircraft is in distress they will know what runway they will use and have preplanned hold points on the taxiway and when proceed there when the emergency is called in.
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RE: Who Would Be At Fault Here? (ambulance Vs Car)

Wed Dec 17, 2014 2:04 am

Quoting flyingturtle (Reply 25):
*How* they are driving does not matter. They have the right of way as long as they use the horn and the flashing light.

I suspect that if you look deeper into the Verkehrsregelnverordnung (there's a mouthful), you will find that it says that emergency vehicle operators must drive with due regard for the safety of others.

The regulation you cites reads just about the same as the regulation here in Kentucky:

189.930 Right-of-way to emergency vehicles – Blocking or following emergency vehicles – Driving over unprotected hoses of fire department.
(1) Upon the approach of an emergency vehicle equipped with, and operating, one (1) or more flashing, rotating, or oscillating red or blue lights, visible under normal conditions from a distance of five hundred (500) feet to the front of such vehicle; or the driver is given audible signal by siren, exhaust whistle, or bell, the driver of every other vehicle shall yield the right-of-way, immediately drive to a position parallel to, and as close as possible to, the edge or curb of the highway clear of any intersection, and stop and remain in such position until the emergency vehicle has passed, except when otherwise directed by a police officer or firefighter.
(2) Upon the approach of any emergency vehicle, operated in conformity with the provisions of subsection (1) of this section, the operator of every vehicle shall immediately stop clear of any intersection and shall keep such position until the emergency vehicle has passed, unless directed otherwise by a police officer or firefighter.


But, the emergency vehicle operator is restrained:

(6) This section does not operate to relieve the person who drives an emergency vehicle from the duty to operate the vehicle with due regard for the safety of all persons using the highway.

That's the hook. Te EVO gets to speed, go through lights and stop signs, gets to go against traffic and travel down the wrong way, but he doesn't get to do it with impunity. And, like I said, I suspect Swiss law is no different.
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RE: Who Would Be At Fault Here? (ambulance Vs Car)

Wed Dec 17, 2014 3:30 am

Quoting flyingturtle (Reply 25):

The same Verkehrsregelnverordnung also state under Art 14 that a person who has the right of way must excercise due care for traffic that may have reached an intersection before the vehicle with the right of way could be seen.

Quote:

2. Der Vortrittsberechtigte hat auf Strassenbenützer Rücksicht zu nehmen, welche die Strassenverzweigungen erreichten, bevor sie ihn erblicken konnten.

This Article does not indicate an exception for drivers of emergency vehicles despite the provisions of Art 16.
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RE: Who Would Be At Fault Here? (ambulance Vs Car)

Wed Dec 17, 2014 8:06 am

Quoting flyingturtle (Reply 23):
Emergency vehicles with flashing lights and horn always have the right of way. No matter how fast they are. If you run into them, it's your fault.

Yeah, well in Switzerland everything is the car driver's fault.
If some crazy loon was to jump from an overpass over the autobahn and you hit him, it's your fault!
If the authorities don't repair a pothole, you hit it and it caused you to spin out of control, yup, your fault.


As for who is at fault when an emergency vehicle runs a red light at speed and hits a vehicle, the fault lies with the driver of the emergency vehicle. They are supposed to be trained professionals and should always ensure the junction is safe to cross.
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RE: Who Would Be At Fault Here? (ambulance Vs Car)

Wed Dec 17, 2014 11:45 am

Quoting fr8mech (Reply 27):
I suspect that if you look deeper into the Verkehrsregelnverordnung (there's a mouthful), you will find that it says that emergency vehicle operators must drive with due regard for the safety of others.

Of course. But then the ambulances must use their signals when they cannot adhere to the traffic rules, which entails said due regard and

Quoting ElanusNotatus (Reply 28):
This Article does not indicate an exception for drivers of emergency vehicles despite the provisions of Art 16.

.

Alas, the question is pretty moot anyway because I've never seen any emergency vehicle speeding over a crossroads.


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RE: Who Would Be At Fault Here? (ambulance Vs Car)

Wed Dec 17, 2014 3:54 pm

Quoting flyingturtle (Reply 30):
Alas, the question is pretty moot anyway because I've never seen any emergency vehicle speeding over a crossroads.

Because they know that doing so, as seen in the video of Russian ambulances at the start of this thread, leads to bad situations that are otherwise entirely avoidable. One must give other vehicles at least a chance to yield the right of way.

I am thinking the Russian ambulances would be better off if they used refitted T-72 tanks.... I'm sure they must have a few extra sitting around.  

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fr8mech
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RE: Who Would Be At Fault Here? (ambulance Vs Car)

Thu Dec 18, 2014 1:22 am

Quoting flyingturtle (Reply 30):
But then the ambulances must use their signals when they cannot adhere to the traffic rules, which entails said due regard and

Fine, if you think turning on your lights and siren is showing "due regard for the safety of others", we can disagree. But, I was a certified emergency vehicle operator, ambulance and fire apparatus. I was a member of our training division, to include drivers' training. I believe I know what I'm talking about.

Maybe Switzerland is ass-backwards in this regard, but I doubt it.
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