Emergency Vehicles Operating In Actual 'Work Zone' Are Exempted from Vehicle and Traffic Laws

In Cottingham v. State of New York (182 Misc 2d 928), Judge John L. Bell of this court posited a four-tier classification system for these vehicles. Under this view, the almost total exemption from all rules of the road conferred by the first phrase of section 1103 (b)--the broadest freedom, covering almost all of title VII and containing no requirement that the vehicle be operated with warning bells or sirens and lights--would apply only to vehicles "at work on the road," which he considered to mean located within an actual "work zone," as defined by Vehicle and Traffic Law 160. of those vehicles actually operating on the roadway, in the midst of others, police vehicles would have the greatest license: the ability to violate laws regarding the specifically designated actions (speed; obeying red lights; turning; and stopping, standing and parking) without making use of additional warning lights or sirens (Vehicle and Traffic Law 1104). Other emergency vehicles 4 are exempt from those same four laws but only with appropriate lights and warning bells employed ( 1104). Finally, "hazard vehicles" would, under the second phrase of section 1103 (b), be exempted only from the laws governing stopping, standing and parking. Under this interpretation of the statutes, when each category of vehicle was being operated properly within its area of exemption, the standard for imposing liability would be that of "reckless disregard," but when it was not engaged in its specifically exempted activity, the driver would be judged by ordinary negligence standards.