Can Emergency Vehicles Run Red Lights In Texas ?
Under emergency conditions, an emergency vehicle operator is entitled to various privileges. City of Amarillo v. Martin, 971 S.W.2d 426, 428 (Tex. 1998).
For example, an emergency vehicle operator responding to an emergency call is allowed to proceed against a red traffic light after slowing for safe operation. Act of April 15, 1971, 62nd Leg., R.S., ch. 83, 1971 Tex. Gen. Laws 723, 727 repealed by Act of May 1, 1995, 74th Leg., R.S., ch. 165, 1, 1995 Tex. Gen. Laws 1025, 1646 (current version at TEX. TRANSP. CODE 546.001, .002 (Vernon 1999)).
However, these privileges do not relieve the driver of an emergency vehicle from the duty to drive with "due regard" for the safety of all persons, nor do they protect the driver from the consequences of his reckless disregard for the safety of others. See Martin, 971 S.W.2d at 428 (interpreting Act of April 15, 1971, 62nd Leg., R.S., ch. 83, 1971 Tex. Gen. Laws 723, 727-28 (repealed 1995) (current version at TEX. TRANSP. CODE 546.005 (Vernon 1999)).
Under the Texas Tort Claims Act, sovereign immunity is waived for a governmental unit for property damage and personal injuries caused by the negligence of an employee acting within the scope of his employment if the damage or injuries arise from the operation or use of a motor vehicle, and the employee would be personally liable to the claimant according to Texas law. See TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM. CODE ANN. 101.021(1) (Vernon 1997).
However, this waiver does not apply to a claim arising:
from the action of an employee while responding to an emergency call or reacting to an emergency situation if the action is in compliance with the laws and ordinances applicable to emergency action, or in the absence of such law or ordinance, if the action is not taken with conscious indifference or reckless disregard for the safety of others. Id. 101.055.