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  #1  
Old 13 May 2007, 04:00 PM
KingDavid8 KingDavid8 is offline
 
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Default Ambulances can be pulled over for speeding?

My supervisor at work is working part-time as a paramedic, and she told me that ambulances can technically be ticketed for speeding, even if they have their lights and sirens going. She says it only gives them license to exceed the speed limit by 10 miles per hour, and anything past that is illegal. She did say that police would probably never actually pull one over, though, and she's never heard of a driver being reprimanded for speeding, so ambulance drivers generally don't worry about how fast they're going, as long as they don't feel it's dangerous.

She also said it's illegal to have your lights or siren going by itself. You have to have both going, or neither. It's also a rule that is frequently ignored by ambulance drivers, because the siren sometimes makes the patient freak out, so they'll turn the siren off and just leave the lights on.

I assume she's telling the truth about this, but I'm wondering if this is the law everywhere, or just here in Michigan.

David
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  #2  
Old 13 May 2007, 04:31 PM
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tribrats tribrats is offline
 
 
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Ambulance

Not sure about the rest but when I had my accident, they sent in a code to the base that told them they were running lights only (I asked about it).
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  #3  
Old 13 May 2007, 06:56 PM
JD65
 
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Probably different jurisdictions have different laws, but I commonly see ambulances running lights only in WA. One thing I notice is at controlled intersections, they slow right down, even if the light is in their favour, but seldom make a complete stop if it's red. I commonly see them running faster than 10 mph over as well.
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  #4  
Old 13 May 2007, 06:56 PM
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TrekkerScout TrekkerScout is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KingDavid8 View Post
She also said it's illegal to have your lights or siren going by itself. You have to have both going, or neither. It's also a rule that is frequently ignored by ambulance drivers, because the siren sometimes makes the patient freak out, so they'll turn the siren off and just leave the lights on.
Here is Washington State's law governing emergency vehicles:
Quote:
RCW 46.61.035
Authorized emergency vehicles.

(1) The driver of an authorized emergency vehicle, when responding to an emergency call or when in the pursuit of an actual or suspected violator of the law or when responding to but not upon returning from a fire alarm, may exercise the privileges set forth in this section, but subject to the conditions herein stated.

(2) The driver of an authorized emergency vehicle may:

(a) Park or stand, irrespective of the provisions of this chapter;

(b) Proceed past a red or stop signal or stop sign, but only after slowing down as may be necessary for safe operation;

(c) Exceed the maximum speed limits so long as he does not endanger life or property;

(d) Disregard regulations governing direction of movement or turning in specified directions.

(3) The exemptions herein granted to an authorized emergency vehicle shall apply only when such vehicle is making use of visual signals meeting the requirements of RCW 46.37.190, except that: (a) An authorized emergency vehicle operated as a police vehicle need not be equipped with or display a red light visible from in front of the vehicle; (b) authorized emergency vehicles shall use audible signals when necessary to warn others of the emergency nature of the situation but in no case shall they be required to use audible signals while parked or standing.

(4) The foregoing provisions shall not relieve the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons, nor shall such provisions protect the driver from the consequences of his reckless disregard for the safety of others. [1969 c 23 § 1; 1965 ex.s. c 155 § 6
In other words, here in Washington:
1) Emergency vehicles can ignore nearly all posted traffic regulations. The only speed limit is what is deemed safe.
2) They can run silent (lights only).
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  #5  
Old 13 May 2007, 07:01 PM
PrometheusX303
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tribrats View Post
Not sure about the rest but when I had my accident, they sent in a code to the base that told them they were running lights only (I asked about it).
Many times the patient\caller will request that siren is turned off when the ambulance nears the residence or neighborhood. The driver is not obligated to honor that request, but they frequently do.

As for the legal issues, I'll have to ask my friend who is a 911 dispatcher.
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  #6  
Old 13 May 2007, 07:11 PM
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Here is Michigan's law governing emergency vehicles:

Quote:
MICHIGAN VEHICLE CODE (EXCERPT)
Act 300 of 1949

257.603 Applicability of chapter to government vehicles; exemption of authorized emergency vehicles; conditions; exemption of police vehicles not sounding audible signal; exemption of persons, vehicles, and equipment working on surface of highway.

Sec. 603.
(1) The provisions of this chapter applicable to the drivers of vehicles upon the highway apply to the drivers of all vehicles owned or operated by the United States, this state, or a county, city, township, village, district, or any other political subdivision of the state, subject to the specific exceptions set forth in this chapter with reference to authorized emergency vehicles.
(2) The driver of an authorized emergency vehicle when responding to an emergency call, but not while returning from an emergency call, or when pursuing or apprehending a person who has violated or is violating the law or is charged with or suspected of violating the law may exercise the privileges set forth in this section, subject to the conditions of this section.
(3) The driver of an authorized emergency vehicle may do any of the following:
(a) Park or stand, irrespective of this act.
(b) Proceed past a red or stop signal or stop sign, but only after slowing down as may be necessary for safe operation.
(c) Exceed the prima facie speed limits so long as he or she does not endanger life or property.
(d) Disregard regulations governing direction of movement or turning in a specified direction.
(4) The exemptions granted in this section to an authorized emergency vehicle apply only when the driver of the vehicle while in motion sounds an audible signal by bell, siren, air horn, or exhaust whistle as may be reasonably necessary, except as provided in subsection (5), and when the vehicle is equipped with at least 1 lighted lamp displaying a flashing, oscillating, or rotating red or blue light visible under normal atmospheric conditions from a distance of 500 feet in a 360 degree arc unless it is not advisable to equip a police vehicle operating as an authorized emergency vehicle with a flashing, oscillating or rotating light visible in a 360 degree arc. In those cases, a police vehicle shall display a flashing, oscillating, or rotating red or blue light visible under normal atmospheric conditions from a distance of 500 feet to the front of the vehicle. Only police vehicles that are publicly owned shall be equipped with a flashing, oscillating, or rotating blue light that when activated is visible under normal atmospheric conditions from a distance of 500 feet in a 360 degree arc.
(5) A police vehicle shall retain the exemptions granted in this section to an authorized emergency vehicle without sounding an audible signal if the police vehicle is engaged in an emergency run in which silence is required.
...
So in Michigan's case, emergency vehicles do not have a speed limit (other than a safe speed) but do have to run with sirens except for police.
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  #7  
Old 14 May 2007, 05:20 AM
Troberg Troberg is offline
 
 
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A side observation: At least in city traffic, speed is not the main factor in arriving quickly for ambulances. Cutting ahead of queues, running against red lights and so on is much more important.
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  #8  
Old 14 May 2007, 06:33 AM
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Dark Blue Dark Blue is offline
 
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Police

I know a number of EMS workers that work for an ambulance service company and they are told by their employer that they can be ticketed for going more than 10 mph over the speed limit because it is against the law for ambulances. This is not true in AZ. I suspect they tell them that because their company policy is that they can only go 10 mph over the speed limit and they hope this will help ensure they abide by the policy.

I simply tell them that they will never be cited for it, but they still face the consqeunces at their company for not following policy if their company finds out.
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  #9  
Old 14 May 2007, 10:36 AM
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Floater Floater is offline
 
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Ambulance

As Troberg said, speed is not an important factor. What is, however, is a smooth ride without having to change speed unnecessary. With a patient on board that is.
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  #10  
Old 15 May 2007, 02:50 PM
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Mommy, who's been an EMT for thirty years, told me years ago that this is true, they can be ticketed for speeding but cops would very likely only do it if they were driving recklessly. Not that driving insanely fast isn't being reckless, but she meant things like weaving in and out of traffic and stuff like that.

And, FWIW, I've actually been a patient in an ambulance that was only running lights and no sirens, all the way to the hospital, twice.
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  #11  
Old 15 May 2007, 02:59 PM
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Some years ago my girlfriend was taken ill at a concert. Due to the fact she was panicking and freaking out and generally not with it, the paramedics thought it would be best if I rode in the front of the ambulance.

Even though I was aware that the driver was highly experienced, I have to say that was one of the most frightening rides of my life. 60+ miles per hour through the streets of East London - much more than 10mph over the limit. The best bit was when he approached a crush barrier blocking the road manned by two policemen. He slowed down enough to allow them move it and themselves out of the way - but only just enough. I think I deserved the oxygen at the end of that.
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  #12  
Old 15 May 2007, 04:57 PM
Vanilla Gorilla
 
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I had a criminal justice professor during college(he used to be a cop) who told us that ambulances could be ticketed. He actually mentioned that he and his partner actually did ticket one ambulance because the driver almost caused a wreck heading to the hospital. Though he did say that if they had to pull over an ambulance they would wait until it reached the hospital and the patient was offloaded. He also mentioned that that stop he told us about was the only one he ever made(so it is rare).
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  #13  
Old 15 May 2007, 06:18 PM
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Old goat Old goat is offline
 
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Tantrum

This whole question makes no sense. If I drove an ambulance, was taking an accident victim to the hospital at best possible speed, and take the chance of getting a speeding ticket. Meaning the next time I might not drive as fast, thus the victim gets to the hospital later, or maybe dead. An emergency vehicle is an energency vehicle is and emergency vehicle, whether it be police, ambulance, fire. To give a ticket to a driver of one is ludicrous.
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  #14  
Old 16 May 2007, 06:17 AM
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Dark Blue Dark Blue is offline
 
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Police

Quote:
I had a criminal justice professor during college(he used to be a cop) who told us that ambulances could be ticketed.
Yes ambulances and any other emergency vehicle can be ticketed if they get into accidents, and drive recklessley and such. The OP seems to be asking if an ambulance if it otherwise obeys every traffic law can be cited if their ONLY offense is speeding. More specifically it seems to be saying they are only allowed to exceed the speed limit by 10 mph.

At least according to Michigan, Washington and Arizona the answer to this is no. They are allowed to exceed the speed limit as long as it does not endanger life or property.

Quote:
Mommy, who's been an EMT for thirty years, told me years ago that this is true, they can be ticketed for speeding but cops would very likely only do it if they were driving recklessly.
But where did she learn this from? Can she provide a statute to back this up? As I have said it is my experience that many ambulance operators believe this. It is common knowledge among them, and just like any other urband legend it gets passed around over and over until they just accept it as true. Heck I bet I can even find some EMS workers with a friend of a friend story of their buddy who is an ambulance driver and got a speeding ticket, but I bet most of them either heard it from someone else in the line of work or from an employer but can't actually provide a cite to show where in fact they can be cited for ONLY speeding.

Maybe there are some countrys or states where this is true, but I'm not aware of them, and even if this is so, it certainly isn't true everywhere.
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  #15  
Old 16 May 2007, 07:11 AM
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RobDBlackwolf RobDBlackwolf is offline
 
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On a side note:
Emergency vehicles in germany always drive silent at night, unless they notice vehicles in front of them, who seem oblivious to the flashing blue light, then they let the horns sound for a few seconds.
However...
During the day, those vehicles just have the right of way if they are using BOTH: lights and horns. If they are flashing the lights only, they have certain rights (driving faster than the speed limit, passing red lights, driving in the opposite lane, going the opposite way in a one way street) as long as they don't endanger or hinder someone else. In other words, if noone is coming from the crossing streets at a red light, or driving down the one way street in the right direction.
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  #16  
Old 16 May 2007, 09:36 AM
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Floater Floater is offline
 
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Ambulance

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobDBlackwolf View Post
On a side note:
Emergency vehicles in germany always drive silent at night, unless they notice vehicles in front of them, who seem oblivious to the flashing blue light, then they let the horns sound for a few seconds.
However...
During the day, those vehicles just have the right of way if they are using BOTH: lights and horns. If they are flashing the lights only, they have certain rights (driving faster than the speed limit, passing red lights, driving in the opposite lane, going the opposite way in a one way street) as long as they don't endanger or hinder someone else. In other words, if noone is coming from the crossing streets at a red light, or driving down the one way street in the right direction.
I think it's a fair guess that those are more or less the rules everywhere. I have a vague recollection, though, of something that happened here a number of years ago. The driver of an organ transport car was fined for speeding when going out to the airport with a heart (or some other spare body part) that was being sent away for transplantation.
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  #17  
Old 16 May 2007, 11:10 AM
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Don Enrico Don Enrico is offline
 
Join Date: 05 October 2004
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Ambulance

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobDBlackwolf View Post
On a side note:
Emergency vehicles in germany always drive silent at night, unless they notice vehicles in front of them, who seem oblivious to the flashing blue light, then they let the horns sound for a few seconds.
However...
During the day, those vehicles just have the right of way if they are using BOTH: lights and horns. If they are flashing the lights only, they have certain rights (driving faster than the speed limit, passing red lights, driving in the opposite lane, going the opposite way in a one way street) as long as they don't endanger or hinder someone else. In other words, if noone is coming from the crossing streets at a red light, or driving down the one way street in the right direction.
I did check that, and found that according to the Straßenverkehrsordnung (German Trafic Law), police, firefighters and other gouvernment vehicles are generally excempt form the rules of the law as far as that is needed in urgent pursuit of their gouvernmental duties. The same applies to medical emergency vehicles, when there is imminent danger to life or health. These rights may only be used under regard of public safety:
Quote:
§ 35 Sonderrechte
(1) Von den Vorschriften dieser Verordnung sind die Bundeswehr, die Bundespolizei, die Feuerwehr, der Katastrophenschutz, die Polizei und der Zolldienst befreit, soweit das zur Erfüllung hoheitlicher Aufgaben dringend geboten ist.

(...)

(5a) Fahrzeuge des Rettungsdiensts sind von den Vorschriften dieser Verordnung befreit, wenn höchste Eile geboten ist, um Menschenleben zu retten oder schwere gesundheitliche Schäden abzuwenden.

(...)

(8) Die Sonderrechte dürfen nur unter gebührender Berücksichtigung der öffentlichen Sicherheit und Ordnung ausgeübt werden.
Blue flashing lights and horns may only be used when utmost haste is needed to protect life and health, fight public dangers, pursuit fleeing persons or protect valuable property. Lights and horn order: "All road users have to give way immediatly". Blue lights alone may only be used as a warning in dangerous situations or when escorting other vehicles or groups of vehicles:

Quote:
§ 38 Blaues Blinklicht und gelbes Blinklicht
(1) Blaues Blinklicht zusammen mit dem Einsatzhorn darf nur verwendet werden, wenn höchste Eile geboten ist, um Menschenleben zu retten oder schwere gesundheitliche Schäden abzuwenden, eine Gefahr für die öffentliche Sicherheit oder Ordnung abzuwenden, flüchtige Personen zu verfolgen oder bedeutende Sachwerte zu erhalten.

Es ordnet an:

"Alle übrigen Verkehrsteilnehmer haben sofort freie Bahn zu schaffen".

(2) Blaues Blinklicht allein darf nur von den damit ausgerüsteten Fahrzeugen und nur zur Warnung an Unfall- oder sonstigen Einsatzstellen, bei Einsatzfahrten oder bei der Begleitung von Fahrzeugen oder von geschlossenen Verbänden verwendet werden.
Judging from that, emergency vehicles have the right of way in case of an emergency even if they don't use lights and horns - however, I doubt you will be liable if you don't give way to a vehicle not using it's signals.

Don Enrico
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  #18  
Old 16 May 2007, 05:55 PM
Robigus
 
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Judge

A quick Google using ticketed and the phrase "ambulance driver" brings up quite a few hits. A quick sampling here:
driving too fast, running red lights, and causing crash that killed one, passing on right and crashing, company fighting ambulance speeding tickets in the UK, DA wants to prosecute.
The common theme I see is that the trouble starts not when the ambulance driver speeds, but when he causes other problems while speeding.
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  #19  
Old 16 May 2007, 06:36 PM
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1958Fury 1958Fury is offline
 
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When I lived in Bowling Green, KY, the ambulances drove ridiculously slow. Like 15 mph below the speed limit. I was nearly late for work one time because I got stuck behind an ambulance (it had lights and siren going). I assume it was trying for a steady ride - it was a bumpy road after all. But the fact I can use the phrase "stuck behind an ambulance" still strikes me as ironic.
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  #20  
Old 23 August 2007, 04:32 PM
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Kelfa83 Kelfa83 is offline
 
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I'm an EMT who works for a very large corporation.

In each of the ambulances there is a computer system that can tell a number of things about the way you drive. This includes how fast you hit the brakes, how fast you are taking a curve, whether your partner is watching you back up, whether you have your seatbelt on and, of course, how fast you are driving. This is accompanied by a very wide range of loud beeps and bells that are really, REALLY annoying after awhile.

The system will start to make clicking noises if you are driving at 70 mph and will beep if you go over that. Thats if you are driving without the lights and/or sirens. If you have an emergency and start using the lights/sirens...the computer doesnt start to click until 75 mph. Highways in the state I work in (Massachusetts) don't exceed the speed limit of 65 mph.

For the record, I have been pulled over by a cop once in my ambulance. This cop thought I was going to slow until i explained to him that we were transporting a young man to a Boston hospital because he had a C-Spine fracture and he was very uncomfortable. I was driving a little slower in order to avoid bumps in the road. The officer apologized and let me go.
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