Crashes involving city vehicles are up – – and not by just a little.
Accidents involving city agency vehicles, not including the Police Department, soared by more than 10%. In 2015 there were 5726 crashes involving non-police city vehicles. Unfortunately, 2016 has been much worse. There have been 6,344 crashes involving city vehicles in 2016.
What gives? These numbers are perplexing considering that the Mayor of New York City has placed great emphasis on its drivers attending defensive driving courses. Mayor Deblasio has required approximately 23,000 city workers to attend defensive driving courses in the last 2 years. Contrast that with former Mayor Bloomberg who only sent 2,262 workers for similar training. Perhaps the defensive driving is not the solution here because it doesn’t seem to be working. The alarming crash statistics also come on the heels of the Mayor’s ‘Vision Zero’ plan, which optimistically has a goal of eliminating all fatal car accidents in New York City. The plan has helped reduce the overall number of vehicular accidents but to say that it is progressing anywhere near the rate that the Mayor hoped-for would be disingenuous.
What city vehicle is the most prominent culprit for the increase in crashes? A recent study indicates that the increase is best illustrated by examining the number of crashes involving F.D.N.Y. ambulances. Ambulance crashes have increased by 31% from the year before. 31%!
We recently discussed the sad fatal crash involving 81-year-old Gen Zhan. This gentleman was hit and killed by an FDNY ambulance as he was walking in an East Village crosswalk. This violent crash and the subsequent study revealed the perils associated with emergency vehicles driving on our roads.
The laws in New York generally require people to exercise ordinary care while they are on the road. Laws related to “Emergency Vehicles” are, however, somewhat different. Emergency vehicles which are being operated in an emergency situation are responsible for crashes when they operate a vehicle with reckless disregard for the safety of others. Why the different set of rules? Lawmakers are attempting to alleviate any hesitation an emergency responder may have about being sued so they can focus on helping the person or persons in need. The law makes sense because we want our emergency workers to get to where they need to be as fast as possible.
But what happens when a police vehicle is driving down the wrong way street so that they can get to the precinct faster to pick up a superior officer?
What about an ambulance who is responding to a child suffering from asthma attack and the ambulance does not have the siren on or the lights illuminated?
Does a sanitation truck receive the same protections as a police officer or an ambulance worker?
Is a street sweeper considered an emergency vehicle?
Sometimes emergency vehicles aren’t truly responding to emergency situations and they are merely flaunting the rules because of their position. Do they deserve any extra protection? Tell us what you think about these issues.
These are issues that lawyers who are handling personal injury cases confront every day. The law is somewhat esoteric and requires a seasoned and experienced attorney to help you navigate you through this challenging area. If you have been involved in a crash with emergency vehicle, you have rights and may be entitled to compensation. You should contact an attorney who can provide you meaningful advice.
Block O’Toole & Murphy is a law firm committed to fighting on behalf of injured victims. They have recovered nearly $1 billion in verdicts and settlements for their clients. Contact them at any time for a free consultation by calling 212.736-5300.