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Do drivers of emergency vehicles have to use reasonable care?

If you see an emergency vehicle in your rear view mirror, or one is approaching from ahead, it is expected that you pull over or yield the right of way to such a vehicle. However, when drivers of emergency vehicles see each other, which vehicle should yield?

This is the question that is being investigated after an ambulance and a fire truck collided in a Miami intersection. According to media reports, the two emergency vehicles were responding to separate events. Images from a traffic camera suggest that the ambulance crashed into the fire truck. Nearly a dozen firefighters were injured in the accident. 

Could this happen in central Pennsylvania? It certainly could; if drivers of emergency vehicles fail to use reasonable care while responding to an emergency. Indeed, the lights and sirens on fire trucks and ambulances are warnings for other drivers to clear the way so that the vehicle can quickly reach people in need, but the drivers of these vehicles are still charged with the duty to drive as a reasonable person would in similar situations.

This means that they may not drive at excessive speeds or disregard common traffic rules in getting to their destinations. In this regard, they are no different from any other driver. If a driver of an emergency vehicle fails to use such care, and the failure results in an accident, the driver could be held liable.

In the meantime, it remains to be seen whether the ambulance company will be held responsible for the crash. 

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