Which Driver is Exempt from Speed limits?

Speed limits and traffic safety laws play an important role in helping reduce car crashes. As a rule of thumb, every car driver is expected to drive at a speed that is reasonable and prudent. This promotes their own safety and that of every other motorist and pedestrian.

Speed-related laws are applicable to all vehicles on the road, including scooters, bicycles, and motor vehicles. Every state has the mandate to set highway speed limits above or below the statutory ones. However, one may wonder, are there drivers who are exempt from speeding and speed limits?

Which vehicle driver is exempt from speed limits?

Drivers that are exempt from speeding are those that operate an authorized emergency vehicle. They include fire department vehicles, private and public ambulances, police units, and public and private squad emergency service vehicles.

This, however, only applies to them when they are responding to an emergency or pursuing an actual or suspected criminal. They can go above the speed limit while in action. They must also display flashing lights or sound the siren.

If your car is not an authorized emergency vehicle, driving past the speed limit is a violation of state law. In some situations, you may get acquitted by a police officer if you’re transporting someone who needs immediate medical assistance to the emergency room.

A police officer will surely understand your predicament if they observe that you have someone in the vehicle who needs emergency medical treatment. They may even make effort to ensure you get there safely and efficiently.

Rules of the Road for Emergency Vehicles

In addition to being exempt and being allowed to exceed speed limits, a driver of an authorized emergency vehicle is allowed to disregard traffic control devices and obstruct traffic. This means that they are allowed to run red lights and drive in a manner that would normally be considered ‘reckless.’

However, it’s good to note that this does not mean that they are above the law. They are not relieved from the duty of operating with due regard for the safety of people and property. They are still required to be cautious as they drive around other vehicles.

Emergency vehicle operators should not put other motorists and pedestrians in harm’s way. They can be prosecuted for acting otherwise or face disciplinary action. Some emergency departments set informal limits for their operators above the official speed limit.

This allows them to maneuver different sections of the road safely. For example, they may set a speed limit of 10 mph when approaching and passing an intersection. There are serious repercussions to violating these rules. Some agencies also install limiters in their vehicle to curb speed.

It’s also important to note that operators of these vehicles can face criminal charges. Take, for example, an ambulance driver or police officer that drives through a red light at 70 mph in busy traffic with low visibility.

If they hit a vehicle going through a green light and kill the occupant, they might go to jail for an undetermined amount of time. The bottom line is the operator is personally liable for actions that may be seen as negligent even when responding to an emergency.

Move Over Law

The Move Over Law states that drivers must give the right of way to emergency vehicles that have their flashing lights and siren on. It helps to protect law enforcement offices and emergency workers from speeding and inattentive drivers.

It also allows emergency operators to respond to emergencies as soon as possible and deliver the help needed. As a rule, motorists must move over to another lane, slow down if they can’t safely change lanes, or provide as much room as possible for the emergency vehicle.

Emergency vehicle operators are trained to overtake on the left-hand side when responding to an emergency. Other motorists are required to slow down and pull over to the right. They should also stop if it’s safe to do so.

This allows the emergency vehicle to use all the available space. It applies to all motorists on the road whether the former is approaching from the front or from behind. Once it passes, the motorist should pull back into their lane and resume their course of travel.

Most states have minimum distance requirements that drivers must uphold when driving behind emergency vehicles with active sirens and lights. In California, for example, they must stay 300 feet behind. In Texas, they must remain 500 feet behind.

Vehicles driving in the opposite direction on a four-lane highway divided by a median may not be required to pull over and stop in some states. Lastly, motorists should not activate their hazard lights when they are moving over for an emergency vehicle.

There are set rules that regulate car driver behavior that indicate when you should use your hazard lights. It’s important to note that failure to adhere to the Move Over Law can attract a fine.

What happens if you get into an accident with an emergency vehicle that is speeding?

Car accidents happen all the time between emergency vehicles and civilian drivers. Even while speeding, the operator of the emergency vehicle is not always liable in an accident. They are legally allowed to go above the speed limit when responding to an emergency.

While they still have a duty of care and must be cautious while passing traffic, other motorists must also obey the “Move Over Law.” They must “yield the right of way.” This means that they must let the emergency vehicle go before them in traffic.

Failure to follow this can lead to a crash and the driver of the emergency vehicle may not be held liable. The law will take into consideration the part that both drivers had to play when determining the cause of the accident.

Neither driver will be able to claim compensation from the other if both parties are found to be responsible. This is especially true at an intersection where an emergency vehicle speeds through a red light without taking all reasonable precaution while the other driver fails to move over to allow them to pass.

Both parties will be held contributorily negligent, which means the plaintiffs will be barred from recovering from the negligence of the other if they too were negligent in causing the accident.

On That Note

In summary, only an emergency vehicle driver is exempt when it comes to speed limits. They can drive above the speed limit while observing caution. They are liable for negligence even if they were responding to an emergency.

All other motorists must obey the speed limits. This helps to promote national mobility and safety on our roads. Remember to give emergency vehicles the right of way when they are approaching from the front or behind you.