Analysis of Ground Ambulance Crash Data From 2012 to 2018

This study reviewed ground ambulance crashes that occurred from 2012 to 2018 in the United States. The study queried several national crash databases and reviewed NHTSA’s Special Crash Investigation (SCI) reports for ambulance-involved crashes. Data in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) revealed that ambulance-involved fatal crashes remained relatively rare from 2012 to 2018 with a national average of 24.7 fatal crashes and 28.4 fatalities per year. Of the individuals killed, 40.2 percent were occupants of the ambulance (i.e., operators/drivers, front seat passengers, clinicians, or patients in the cabin), 52.3 percent were occupants of other vehicles involved in the crash, and 7.5 percent were non-occupants (e.g., pedestrians, bicyclists). Overall, 45.7 percent of the fatal crashes occurred during emergency use and 28 percent occurred when lights and sirens were active (2013 to 2018 data only). Analyses of the National Automotive Sampling System (NASS) General Estimates System (GES) and Crash Report Sampling System (CRSS) data indicated that approximately 36.2 percent of injury crashes occurred when the ambulance was reported to have lights and sirens active (2013 to 2018 data only) and of those injured in crashes involving an ambulance with reported lights and sirens in use, 24.4 percent were occupants inside the ambulance. Similarly, lights and sirens were active in 40.7 percent of the SCI crashes. Almost all (92.6%) of the 27 SCI crashes reviewed involved ambulance operator/driver error. Improper clearing of intersections, traveling against red lights, and operator fatigue were noted as contributing factors in SCI crashes. A key finding in SCI crashes was lack of proper restraint use by both clinicians and patients. Findings suggest priority countermeasures to improve ground ambulance safety: (1) Strengthen organizational safety polices; (2) Reduce operator error through training; (3) Create a culture of safety; (4) Adopt new vehicle safety designs or technologies.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Edition: Final Report
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 41p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01889210
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: DOT HS 813 480, 335-1
  • Contract Numbers: DTNH2216D00011 693JJ919F000191
  • Created Date: Jul 27 2023 4:55PM