There are an awful lot of car crashes in Tennessee; sometimes they’re accidents, and sometimes they’re the result of negligence. In this case, it was a little bit of both. A young officer named Nicholas Berens was pursuing a suspect in a shooting when the car in front of him – probably a bit panicked by the lights – stopped right in the middle of the road instead of pulling over. Officer Berens swerved to avoid hitting the car and instead struck a tree so hard that medical personal took 20 minutes to get him out. He’s in critical but stable condition.

What happened to Officer Berens is terrible, but it’s far from unique. As more and more people become dependent on their cars to tell them how to drive – with GPS units, or rearview cameras; Google even built a car that drives itself – fewer and fewer people are taking the time to really learn and remember the rules of the road. And with so many rules and so many cars on the roads in Tennessee, this could lead to some horrific accidents down the line.

What to do when there’s emergency personnel behind you

To avoid a car crash with a police car or an ambulance, or any type of emergency vehicle, keep these tips in mind:

  • When you can see the vehicle, slow down and put your hazards lights on
  • Move slowly onto the shoulder to your right
  • If you’re at a red light and can’t get into the shoulder, make your way as far right as possible
  • If you’re at a red light and can legally turn right on red, do so; if not move only as far as you absolutely need to in order to let the cop or ambulance pass you

A lot of people ask me whether it’s okay to run a red light if there are sirens and flashing lights behind you, and the answer is no. It’s illegal to run a red light, and you can actually cause a car crash yourself if you dart into an intersection. That being said, you should use your best judgment. Ultimately, you need to protect yourself first and foremost.

As a traffic defense and car accident attorney, I see situations like these all of the time. If you find yourself in need of legal representation for either reason, give me a call for a free consultation.

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