Motorcycle accident shows dangers of following emergency vehicles too closely

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- First responders are warning about the dangers of following too closely after a motorcycle slammed into the back of an Indianapolis Fire Department (IFD) vehicle.

Investigators believe a group of motorcyclists were speeding to catch up and following a fire truck before crashing into the back of it.

It's called "drafting." It's when a driver closely follows an emergency vehicle trying to either avoid traffic or run through a red light.

"We see it a lot when we're on the interstate. They see an exit ahead of them and they'll want to drift-in behind the fire apparatus and follow us down and jump off the exit to avoid traffic," said IFD Battalion Chief Howard Stahl.

Tuesday's crash was an example of how following too closely can be dangerous. When responding to the emergency, a group of motorcyclists sped up to catch the fire truck. Investigators said one motorcycle slammed into the back. Then, another motorcycle flipped over and landed in the road.

"We have an enormous blind spot. Remember, this is a truck and some of our trucks are as large as the semi rigs you see out of the interstate, so for us to maneuver in and around the city streets it's unbelievable," explained Stahl.

At Station 3 in Fountain Square, firefighters are tasked with navigating through tight one-way roads. The problem of "drafting" is not only illegal, it's dangerous and potentially deadly.

"These apparatus stop quickly and turn very quickly. We have people when we're coming to a stop that are dismounting, they're going to work," Stahl said. "If you’re right behind them, the results could be devastating."

If you are caught following 500 feet or less from an emergency vehicle, you could get a ticket. Average fines are about $150.