Tips to Reduce Intersection Collisions

by on November 13, 2009

in EMS Tips, Firefighting, Operations

A  headline at proclaims “Howler Siren Cuts Ambulance Wrecks in Half.” The service mentioned in the article reduced its intersection collisions from 16 to 8 after installing a new type of siren that emits a low frequency tone that causes reverberation. Of course collision reduction is great news, but this is likely a good example of Post Hoc Ergo Proctor Hoc (after this therefore because of this).

Here are Everyday EMS Tips for reducing intersection collisions:

1. Minimize use of red lights and sirens.

2. Follow all applicable state and local policies for emergency vehicle operations.

3. Cover the brake when going through an intersection with a green light.

4. Always come to a complete stop at stop signs and red lights.

5. Select routes that minimize left turns.

6. The front seat EMS professional, if present, should act for a spotter and also look right and left at all intersections.

7. Don’t race yellow lights or attempt to time the light change.

8. Read Rogue Medic’s excellent post on this same topic “Magic Sirens Prevent Ambulance Drivers From Hitting Things

To read the article about collision reduction visit

  • Thank you for the link.

    The only thing I disagree with is coming to a full stop for stop signs and red lights. I think that the driver should be able to judge what the appropriate speed is. Too many times, due to a state law, or company policy, I have seen an ambulance come to a full stop after all of the other vehicles have stopped, and the other vehicles start driving again. This sometimes leads the driver of the ambulance to try to come to a full stop before the other vehicles – in other words to drive more roughly just to comply with a policy.

    As long as the ambulance keeps moving, and a walking pace is plenty, the other drivers do not come to the conclusion that the ambulance is being parked. Faster than a walking pace is when you start losing the ability to see the other vehicles that may be moving.

    If other cars do not come to a full stop, the driver of the ambulance needs to decide what the appropriate action is to avoid collisions. Having traffic stop, then start, then stop again, is not a way to improve safety, or encourage good driving.

    We can go too far in applying rules that prevent discretion by the trained professional, whether it is the driver of the ambulance or the person providing patient care.

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  • How do you feel about roundabouts?

    • I love roundabouts. So much that I will write an upcoming post about the greatness of roundabouts – reduced speed collisions, no left turn collisions, no t-bone collisions, less gas consumption. Roundabouts FTW!

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