It's natural to assume that an ambulance must be one of the safest vehicles on the road. After all, its whole purpose is to save lives and help the injured. With emergency lights and sirens, other traffic has to give it a wide berth.
However, the reality is that ambulances do crash. They operate in chaotic situations where time is critical. To that end, they often break speed limits and traffic laws. They're allowed to do this, of course, but it does increase the risk. Here are some key stats about how often ambulances crash and how it happens:
- One study examined 339 such accidents and found that they led to 838 injuries and 405 deaths.
- The majority of the accidents (202) happened when the ambulance was on an emergency call.
- Most of the fatalities (233) also happened in emergency situations.
- The most common place for accidents was at intersections.
- The highest percentage of accidents — 39 percent — happened in the afternoon between 12 p.m. and 6 p.m.
- A full 77 percent of crashes happened during clear weather conditions, while 69 percent took place on dry roads.
- The vast majority of crashes, or 99 percent, happened on "improved" roadways.
The danger is not just to those in the ambulance, though they do face significant risks, especially if emergency workers are not strapped in or patients are already in a fragile state. Other drivers can also suffer serious injuries, in part due to an ambulance's relatively greater size and the potential that the driver will be speeding. Those who get hurt in these accidents need to know all of their legal options.