Distracted Driving and Injuries to First Responders

Fire trucks and emergency responder vehicles on a dar road on a rainy night.

New Research Says Distracted Drivers Can Cause Injuries to First Responders on the Road

When we think about distracted driving accidents, we often think about single-car crashes with buildings or fixtures involving the vehicle driven by the distracted driver, accidents with other motor vehicles on the road, or collisions with pedestrians that are attempting to cross the street. Yet distracted driving can also be the cause of other types of motor vehicle accidents.

According to a recent report from CBS News, distracted driving is a major cause of injuries to first responders who arrive to help accident victims on the side of the road. Collisions involving distracted drivers and emergency vehicles are not discussed enough, according to new research.The report discusses new research conducted by the National Safety Council (NSC), which determined that “many drivers are profoundly distracted by their phones when they’re going past first responders working accidents on the roadways.”

Indeed, more than 70% of drivers surveyed as part of the recent research “admitted to taking photos and texting while driving by emergency workers.” That number is almost three times the amount of drivers who admitted to texting or taking photos when they were not driving past an emergency worker on the side of the road. Of those drivers surveyed, more than 70% admit to photographing the emergency scene or texting someone else about it, and about 60% “admitted to posting to social media.” Approximately 66% of drivers reported that they had “emailed about what they’re driving by.”

When motorists are distracted by car crashes and emergency workers, those emergency workers can end up suffering serious and fatal injuries. In 2018 alone, 40 first responders suffered fatal injuries in collisions with motor vehicles. In the beginning of 2019, 21 emergency workers sustained fatal injuries in collisions.

Based on the drivers surveyed for the NSC research, 16% “say they’ve struck or nearly struck an emergency vehicle or first responder on the side of the road.” Distracted driving around emergency workers is extremely dangerous, and motorists need to understand that they raise the risk of collisions with first responders when they take out their phones. Whenever you approach or drive by an emergency scene or a first responder, it is vital to avoid any distractions that could result in an accident and injuries.

Tips for Avoiding Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is a serious problem. The following are tips from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety for avoiding distracted driving accidents:

  • Actively focus on driving;
  • Do not have any possessions loose or in reach while you are driving so that you will be less likely to reach for these items and lose focus on the road;
  • Make any necessary adjustments to seats, mirrors, GPS, and the radio before you begin driving;
  • Safely secure any children according to safety standards, and pull over before you attend to a child in the car;
  • Do not use your cell phone while you are driving, even if you have a hands-free option;
  • Ask passengers to help you focus on the road and ask them to avoid distracting you while you are driving;
  • If another task in the car requires your attention, pull over before you attend to it; and
  • When you cannot devote your complete attention to driving, pull over until you can do so.

If you or someone you love was injured in a collision caused by a distracted driver, you should speak with a car accident attorney about your case.

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