Move Over for Ambulances: Save a Life, Maybe Even Your Own

EMS practitioners work hard to take care of us, sometimes in what could be our last hour if they weren’t there to transport us. In light of that, National EMS Week was established in 1974 by President Ford to celebrate the work these folks perform 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In one day, EMS personnel might respond to any number of medical emergencies, from a fall to a heart attack to a drowning, providing essential care on-site and during transport of the patient to the hospital.

When you see the lights in your mirror and hear the sirens, or approach the scene of an emergency, we hope you move out of the way immediately. Sadly, in our world that only seems to grow busier, some do not, leading to serious accidents that endanger all involved, including the EMS practitioners and the patients receiving care and transportation.

Ambulance Crashes in South Carolina

Crashes involving ambulances in which people are injured are not rare events. Some recent SC ambulance accidents include:

  • February, 2017, Conway: A FedEx truck attempted to turn left in front of a Horry County ambulance, causing a crash. The truck’s driver was charged with failing to yield the right of way.
  • August, 2016, Williamston: An ambulance passing a truck hit a car head-on after both vehicles swerved in an attempt to avoid the accident. Four persons were sent to the hospital.
  • March, 2016, Florence: A pick-up truck and ambulance crashed, sending three people to the hospital. The driver of the truck was charged with DUI and driving on a suspended license.

The National Numbers

Starting in 1975, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) began gathering information concerning all fatal vehicular accidents in the U.S. through its Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). According to data collected between 1992 and 2011, we know the following about ambulance crashes:

  • Each year, 4,500 crashes involve an ambulance.
  • About one-third—34 percent—of crashes involving an ambulance result in injuries.
  • Each year, 33 persons die in crashes involving an ambulance.
  • Ambulance passengers, which include patients being transported, were killed 21 percent of the time in crashes.
  • Nearly two-thirds of the time—63 percent—the fatality is in the other vehicle, not the ambulance, when crashes occur.

Imagine being in the car that would not move over for an ambulance about to overtake them. The driver and passengers of that vehicle have a much greater chance of dying in the crash than those in the ambulance itself. Moving to allow emergency vehicles such as ambulances to pass makes sense for many reasons.

South Carolina’s “Move Over” Law

If the chance of being involved in a serious wreck isn’t enough to convince you, consider that SC instituted a “move over” law in 2002. South Carolina’s Section 56-5-1538 states that motorists are to slow down and change lanes if at all possible to give emergency vehicles and the scene of an emergency maximum room. Emergency vehicles include first responders, law enforcement vehicles, other emergency vehicles, and tow trucks. Motorists must also yield the right of way to such vehicles. Anyone who violates this section, if convicted, will be fined between $300 and $500.

Please, for everyone’s safety, give emergency vehicles the right of way and plenty of room, whether you are passing the scene of an emergency or whether the vehicle is attempting to get by you.

Justice. Delivered.

Drivers who speed or operate their vehicles recklessly should be held accountable for the damage and suffering they cause. If you’ve been seriously injured or lost a loved one in a South Carolina car accident that involved a speeding or reckless driver, you know that the consequences of such irresponsible acts can be life-changing.

At the Louthian Law Firm, we understand the devastation that a serious injury or death of a family member can cause. Our experienced lawyers can help you secure the compensation you need to get your life back on track. Contact the Louthian Law Firm in Columbia today at 1-803-454-1200 for a free evaluation of your case. You can also use our online contact form to schedule a free, confidential consultation.