Wed, Jun 13, 2012 - Page 8 News List

[ LETTER ]

Deadly ambulance drivers

In recent weeks, there have been several ambulances involved in fender benders at intersections. From video surveillance of the accidents, it appears that in each case the ambulance drivers had run a red light. Granted, ambulances and other emergency vehicles by law have the right of way when responding to emergency calls and their lights and sirens are switched on.

However, in no way should that give drivers of emergency vehicles license to recklessly barrel through red lights at breakneck speed.

As a former emergency medical technician (EMT) who worked briefly as an ambulance driver in the US, one of the first things I was warned about by my company was to never assume that the drivers in other vehicles would see my flashing lights or hear my siren and always yield to me, especially at intersections. We were required to slow down when approaching an intersection (particularly when going through a red light), and even come to a complete stop if necessary to make sure it was safe before proceeding. Causing an accident by carelessly zooming through a red light could have subjected my company to lawsuits, lengthy court cases and costly settlements.

Apparently, ambulance companies in Taiwan worry little about such matters. At least one would never guess that they think twice about it given the suicidal manner in which many of their drivers bomb through red lights.

Ambulance drivers, perhaps more than anyone else, ought to place the safety of themselves, their occupants and others on the road as their highest priority.

After several fatal accidents involving tour and overland buses, the government has finally begun to crack down on bus companies and drivers. It needs to do the same to ambulance companies and drivers who cause avoidable accidents.

If ambulance drivers are given free rein to recklessly gun their vehicles through intersections and red lights at dangerously high speeds, it is only a matter of time until some unfortunate innocent victim is going to be tragically killed by those whose job it is to save the lives of victims of other accidents.

Wayne Schams

Pingtung

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