The numbers are, quite frankly, crazy. In a recent survey released by the National Safety Council and the Emergency Responder Safety Institute, an organization focused on reducing deaths and injuries to emergency responders, a shocking 71 percent of U.S. drivers said that when they pass an emergency vehicle on the road responding to traffic crashes, fires and other incidents, they take photos or videos. While still behind the wheel, these distracted drivers then …
- Post pics or videos of the incident to social media (60 percent)
- Send emails about the incidents (66 percent).
Frighteningly, the survey also found that 16 percent of drivers, more than 1 in 10, said that they have nearly hit emergency personnel or vehicles on or near roadsides. Another 19 percent admitted that their own distracted driving behaviors have probably put emergency responders in danger.
In a press release, Nick Smith, interim president and CEO of the NSC, had this to say about the survey results and dangers to emergency responders:
“The cruel irony is, we are putting the people who are trying to improve safety in very unsafe situations. Our emergency responders deserve the highest levels of protection as they grapple with situations that are not only tactically difficult but also emotionally taxing. Save your communications for off the road; disconnect and just drive.”
First Responders Especially Vulnerable
Unfortunately, distracted driving is an epidemic in this country that contributes to thousands of fatalities and injuries annually. Firefighters, EMTs, police, paramedics and other responders who are outside of their vehicles attending to crashes and other emergencies on busy highways are especially at risk. Sadly, so far already in 2019, 16 emergency responders have been struck and killed by motor vehicles and many more have been injured, according to the NSC release. Bringing attention to the dangers responders face from picture-taking, gawking, or just plain distracted drivers as this survey aims to do is important to helping reduce deaths and injuries.
The survey also showed that …
- 80 percent of drivers slow down to get a better look when they see an emergency response vehicle tending to a fire, crash or traffic stop, which not only creates safety hazards but backs up traffic.
- 24 percent of motorists do not realize that there are legal requirements for what drivers must do when they see an emergency vehicle on the side of the road.
New York’s Move-Over Law
All 50 states have laws that outline what drivers should do when passing emergency vehicles pulled over on the side of the road. Under New York State’s move-over law, drivers are required to use care, slow down and safely move over a lane to allow space when passing emergency and other vehicles with flashing lights. The law applies when passing police vehicles, fire trucks, ambulances, tow trucks, road construction crews, road maintenance vehicles, and sanitation trucks. Fines range from $150 to $450, with additional state surcharges, for move-over law violations.
If you’ve been injured in a distracted driving or other accident, Kaplan Lawyers PC are here to help you. Contact our experienced car accident attorneys 24/7 to schedule a free case review.