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Get the Facts on Emergency Vehicle Accidents

By David Boehrer | Posted on June 28, 2019

Accidents involving emergency vehicles such as police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances pose significant injury and fatality risks.

Emergency Vehicle Crashes

Because emergency vehicles often travel through traffic at high speeds in crisis situations, crashes often result in severe or fatal injuries to first responders, other drivers, and pedestrians. Fatality rates for emergency responders are up to 4.8 times higher than the national average, according to Las Vegas injury lawyers.

Emergency vehicles are authorized to respond to emergency situations that pose immediate risks to life, health, property, or environment. When responding to an emergency call, vehicle drivers often use a “code 3 running” status which includes the use of sirens, flashing lights, and high speeds. There are approximately 410,000 police cars, 160,000 fire trucks, and 48,000 ambulances currently in use in the United States.

Accident Statistics

Police Cars

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), vehicle-related crashes are a leading cause of line-of-duty deaths for U.S. police officers. Between 2005 and 2017, 775 police officers were killed in vehicle-related crashes, accounting for 37% of all line-of-duty deaths. Over the last decade, more than one police officer per week has died in a vehicle crash. High-speed police pursuits account for approximately 300 fatalities each year, and 30% of fatalities occur to people who are not involved in the pursuits.

Fire Trucks

Data from the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) shows that firetruck accidents are the second leading cause of job-related deaths for firefighters. Over the last 10 years, there were 31,600 fire truck accidents, and approximately 70% of those accidents occurred while fire trucks were in emergency use. Since fire trucks are large, heavy vehicles loaded with heavy equipment to fight fires, rollovers are common and result in serious or fatal injuries to firefighters and other people involved in the accident.


In the U.S., approximately 6,500 ambulance accidents each year account for thousands of injuries. Close to 60% of ambulance accidents occur during response to an emergency. NHTSA data shows that 63% of fatalities occur to occupants in passenger vehicles; 21% occur to ambulance passengers; 12% occur to nearby pedestrians, and 4% occur to ambulance drivers. Compared to police officers and firefighters, emergency medical responders have a greater risk of vehicle crashes.

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