When I was taking my kids to daycare the other day, I was driving along a small two-way road. The speed limit was 30 MPH and I was going roughly 35 MPH.
Suddenly, the car behind me crossed the double yellow lines to my left so that they could try to overtake me. It was a little tempting to speed up at that point, but having my kids in the car and not being a freaking idiot, I just let them go ahead of me.
About a minute later, the road divided into two lanes and the other car arrived at the light at exactly the same time I did. So they broke two laws (crossing double yellow lines, speeding) in order to gain zero time.
I was a little irritated, but then I told myself: maybe this is an OB/GYN rushing to get to the hospital to do an emergency C-section! (Yeah, right.)
Of course, then I got to thinking about how doctors do sometimes get pulled over for speeding or breaking other traffic laws while rushing to an emergency. I even heard about an OB/GYN who got arrested after safely delivering a baby in distress because he had refused to wait around for the officer to give him a ticket.
Yes, there are emergencies in medicine and that can be an excuse for running a red light or speeding. But truthfully, no matter how important where you're rushing is, it's not more important than the lives of the other people on the road. I heard a story about a cardiologist rushing to get to an emergency at the hospital who ran a read light, and killed two children.
What do you think? Does a doctor who's speeding to get to an emergency still deserve a ticket? I say yes.
Yes, they should, however if they are speeding to an emergency and explain this to the officer, I think it would be entirely reasonable for the officer to then ether meet them at the hospital to write the ticket, or provide an escort.ReplyDelete
While a doctor may be needed somewhere urgently, I'm doubting the vast majority of physicians are trained to drive extremely fast on crowded roads, so they are posing an unnecessary danger to themselves and others. Being needed urgently does not instantly imbue someone with the skills of an experienced ambulance driver.
Plus they don't have sirens and lights to alert people they're going to be barreling through an intersection.Delete
Technically, no emergency vehicle is allowed to barrel through an intersection when responding to a call even with lights and sirens. They must stop at all red lights, ensure that no one is coming and then proceed. They are held liable if anything happens to anyone while running code.Delete
It's the same with speeding on roads. You would be surprised at how many people do stupid stuff when an emergency vehicle is approaching. The paramedic/firefighter/police would be responsible for these people too.
Agree w/ Kay. Plus if you are going to speed w/o sirens you still need to come to a stop at red lights, look both ways, and only then go against the light.ReplyDelete
I agree w/Kay and Anon., and add put your flashers on to let people know you are driving like a maniac for a reason.ReplyDelete
When I was a resident, I was rushing in to the hospital once to perform an emergent surgery. It was late at night. I was at a stop light that was red. It was a very long light. There were no cars other than the one behind me for hundreds of yards. I mean, no one else remotely in sight and I had a good view on all directions. So, after coming to a complete stop, I drove through the intersection effectively running the red light. The car behind me was an unmarked car. The cop pulled me over and asked what I was thinking. I told him I wouldn't normally do it but it was a surgical emergency, and I pointed out that I had come to a complete stop and looked and there were no pedestrians or other cars I could have possibly hit. He let me go. Was that wrong?ReplyDelete
Did you deserve a ticket in your story? Technically, you were breaking the law by driving over the speed limit regardless of common convention of being able to go 5-10 MPH over the limit without getting a ticket. And what makes it even worse, you were not in a rush and you had your kids in the car.
The guy speeding excessively and crossing double yellow lines was probably pushing it, but I would argue it's all relative.
In terms of my own safely, I think it's very arguably safer to go five miles over the speed limit than five miles above. I actually get very frightened when I'm riding with people who drive very slowly because other people on the road will do very dangerous things to get around you. I'm safer going 35 MPH than 25 MPH and being tailgated by five cars, which we all know would have happened. It's enough of a convention to go a bit over the speed limit that it's to your detriment not to do it. Whereas that other guy was clearly risking his safety and also being a bit of a douche.Delete
Er, safer to go five miles over the speed limit than five miles *below*Delete
I agree with you that it is safer to go 5mph over the speed limit than under.Delete
Unfortunately, an uptight cop in a bad mood may not agree
I've never known anyone who got a speeding ticket for going 5 miles over.Delete
I think there is a difference between recklessly speeding through a crowded area (idiotic) and running a light on a completely deserted road IF you have stopped and are sure nobody is coming. Ditto speeding a bit (certainly no more than 10-15 mph over) on an empty, open road with good visibility. While it is very difficult to determine where to draw the line, there are situations where a driver/doctor would only be putting him or herself, and not anyone else, at a very minimal level of risk in order to arrive at an emergency situation in which 5 minutes can truly be the difference between life and death (though I believe those situations are also relatively rare for most physicians).ReplyDelete
If a physician is needed at a hospital for an emergency then they should have the proper safety equipement (lights and siren) and driver's training to avoid accidents when responding to an emergency.ReplyDelete
Thankfully in my city, almost all traffic control and tickets are done via cameras. This means that if a physician does need to break a law to get there, at least there is no waiting around for an officer to hold them up. On the other side, cameras are always watching, and you will get a ticket most of the time you break a role, rather than the rare chance an officer is around, so people learn that it's not worth it here.ReplyDelete
I agree in theory, but I totally hate those cameras at lights.Delete
The stars must have been aligned in my favor the night my oldest daughter was born. My water broke in the middle of the night and my uber paranoid husband was convinced I was going to have the baby in the car...h was going about 20 over the speed limit (although there was barely any traffic out) and by the grace of God we arrived safely at the hospital!!ReplyDelete
There is nothing unsafe about driving fast if you know how to drive. Speed limits are set for absolute minimum, for drivers who can hardly control a vehicle. Just because someone can barely manage a speed of 30mph, doesn't mean I can't manage 60 on the same road. If you have an old car (or truck), you braking speed at 30 is going to be the same as a sports car's at 60.ReplyDelete
I'm against crossing double yellow lines. They tend to be in areas with poor visibility and unsafe passing areas. So that's kinda stupid. Speeding, however, I don't care about, as long as it's not in busy areas (in which case it becomes stupid and reckless).
First comes the issue of your ability to drive, do you have the same level of training as a police officer, paramedic or fireman to drive and control your vehicle? I would doubt it, and so would your insurance company, invalidating your insurance. Is your vehicle maintained to a high standard, and fitted with audible and visible warning devices? Again I doubt it. Finally does your hospital state in your contract that you are allowed to violate traffic law in order to respond to an emergency situation?ReplyDelete
If you can't answer yes to all of those, don't violate traffic law, the time you gain isn't worth someone else on the road needing my services rather than yours
I'll race you in my bimmer, and I bet I'll be faster AND safer. I also bet my car brakes faster than yours. I also bet that I'm a better driver at high speeds than you. And that my car is maintained to a far higher standard than yours.Delete
This bet is nonsensical, because this is the Internet.
But my point is, government vehicles aren't maintained quite the same. It depends on budgets and the quality of staff. We had an ambulance break down while transporting a patient in severe distress, in the middle of nowhere.
Also, ambulances and EMS vehicles are giant and not nimble. They can't turn fast. They can't stop fast. They have terrible visibility around them. They are NOT safe vehicles at high speeds.
I will not bring police vehicles into this discussion, except to say that they're not somehow special and magical. Their car quality is far below that of a sports vehicle, but certainly significantly better and better maintained than the majority of cars on the road. But they are not special, and their drivers aren't special.
A lot of us are trained in a lot of things, doesn't mean we're good at them. And vice versa.
It is clear in America that traffic violations are not enforced strictly. US society has accepted that it is in the police officer's discretion whether or not to issue a citation in any given instance. If, for instance, someone is clearly speeding and the officer decides to give someone a "warning", I dont think anyone thinks that a grave injustice has occurred or that this will lead to more serious crimes being committed.ReplyDelete
Having accepted that,I think that it if a doctor is breaking a traffic law in a true medial emergency in a way that is not in fact dangerous (ie crossing a red light when being absolutely sure that is safe to cross, speeding on a deserted highway, etc.), then the officer should have the discretion not to issue the ticket and probably should exercise that discretion.
Ambulance drivers, at least in the 2 states I'm familiar with, have no uber-special training in driving at high speeds, etc. also I would submit that if they can drive quickly to get a patient to the hospital, it makes sense that the doctor needed to care for the patient be able to get there quickly as well. agree with the doctor having some sort of flashing light though.ReplyDelete