A West Georgia Ambulance driver crossed the center line and crashed head on into a truck in Carrollton on Monday. Reportedly the ambulance was not on an emergency call. Both drivers were injured. The ambulance driver was transported by helicopter to Atlanta Medical Center.
Here’s the most pertinent portion of Georgia law on operation of emergency vehicles, including ambulances:
OCGA 40-6-6. Authorized emergency vehicles
(a) The driver of an authorized emergency vehicle or law enforcement vehicle, when responding to an emergency call, when in the pursuit of an actual or suspected violator of the law, or when responding to but not upon returning from a fire alarm, may exercise the privileges set forth in this Code section.
(b) The driver of an authorized emergency vehicle or law enforcement vehicle may:
(1) Park or stand, irrespective of the provisions of this chapter;
(2) Proceed past a red or stop signal or stop sign, but only after slowing down as may be necessary for safe operation;
(3) Exceed the maximum speed limits so long as he or she does not endanger life or property; and
(4) Disregard regulations governing direction of movement or turning in specified directions.
(c) The exceptions granted by this Code section to an authorized emergency vehicle shall apply only when such vehicle is making use of an audible signal and use of a flashing or revolving red light visible under normal atmospheric conditions from a distance of 500 feet to the front of such vehicle, except that a vehicle belonging to a federal, state, or local law enforcement agency and operated as such shall be making use of an audible signal and a flashing or revolving blue light with the same visibility to the front of the vehicle.
(d)(1) The foregoing provisions shall not relieve the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons. . . .
(3) The provisions of this subsection shall apply only to issues of causation and duty and shall not affect the existence or absence of immunity which shall be determined as otherwise provided by law.
There’s nothing in that statute to authorize an ambulance to be operated on the wrong side of the road. Nothing to confer special status on an ambulance when it’s not responding to an emergency. You get the drift.
Ken Shigley is a trial attorney in Atlanta, Georgia who has been listed as a “Super Lawyer” (Atlanta Magazine), among the “Legal Elite” (Georgia Trend Magazine), and in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers (Martindale), and is a Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy. He served as chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Litigation Institute, is on the National Advisory Board for the Association of Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America, and is a frequent speaker at continuing legal education programs for the Interstate Trucking Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice. Mr. Shigley has extensive experience representing parties in trucking and bus accidents, products liability, catastrophic personal injury, wrongful death, spinal cord injury, brain injury and burn injury cases. Currently he is Secretary of the 40,000 member State Bar of Georgia.This post is subject to our ethical disclaimer.