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Investigation of Emergency Vehicle Crashes in the State of Michigan

NCJ Number
Peter T. Savolainen; Kakan Chandra Dey; Indrajit Ghosh; Teja L.N. Karra; Alexander Lamb
Date Published
October 2009
41 pages
This study identified critical factors associated with the occurrence of emergency vehicle crashes in Michigan from 2004 to 2008, distinguished among the characteristics of crashes that involved different types of emergency vehicles, and determined those factors that affected the injury severity in emergency vehicle crashes.
Crashes during emergency responses were more likely to occur near intersections or driveways, under dark lighting conditions, and during the nighttime peak period. The types of crashes that were the most prevalent were angle, head-on, and sideswipe collisions. These emergency response crashes were also characterized by high-risk driving behaviors, notably speeding, overtaking, passing, and non-use of safety restraint devices. Injuries tended to be most severe at high speeds, when emergency or nonemergency drivers exhibited high-risk driving behavior, when angle collisions occurred, and when crashes involved police cars. Crashes yielded the least severe injuries when they occurred at locations with lower posted speed limits, under darkness, when male drivers were involved, and particularly when safety belts were used. The study recommends mounting efforts to improve the knowledge, skills, and abilities of emergency vehicle drivers, including targeted training and educational program designed to reduce the frequency of high-risk driving behaviors. Initiatives should also attempt to increase awareness of emergency vehicle safety issues among the general public, since crash data indicate that poor and risky driving by the general public - including speeding, disregarding traffic controls, and other careless driving behaviors - present a problem for emergency vehicle operators. 4 tables and 24 references