In 2020, 180 people died in crashes involving emergency vehicles. The majority of these deaths were occupants of non-emergency vehicles (56%). Deaths among pedestrians accounted for another 25%, while emergency vehicle drivers represented 11% and emergency vehicle passengers accounted for about 5% of the deaths. The majority of these deaths (69%) occurred in multi-vehicle crashes. Crashes involving police vehicles accounted for the most deaths (132), followed by ambulances (31), and fire trucks (17). Use the interactive chart to explore more trends by changing crash year, emergency vehicle type, and emergency status.
- Data Table
Source: National Safety Council analysis of National High Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data and Traffic safety facts annual report tables. Table 61 downloaded on 6-1-21.
A recent study highlights the potential increase in crash risk when ambulances operate with lights and sirens. When an ambulance responds to an emergency call without using lights and sirens, the crash rate is 4.6 per 100,000 responses. The crash rate increases to 5.5 when lights and sirens are used. The increase in risk is even greater when the ambulance is transporting a victim. The crash risk without lights and sirens is 7.0 per 100,000 transports, and increases to 16.5 when lights and sirens are used throughout the transport.
- Data Table
Source: Watanabe, B.L., Patterson, G.S., Kempema, J.M, Magallanes, O., & Brown, L.H. (2019). Is use of warning lights and sirens associated with increased risk of ambulance crashes? A contemporary analysis using national EMS information system (NEMSIS) data. Annals of Emergency Medicine, 74(1).