Drivers who are focusing on anything other than driving safely are distracted drivers, and they endanger everyone with whom they share the roadway. Driving is an immense responsibility that every motorist should take seriously. Distracted driving is the impetus behind any number of dangerous accidents on our highways and byways, but recent research indicates that first responders at roadside accidents may be in particular danger from distracted drivers.
Distracted by Emergencies
A recent report from the National Safety Council (NSC) shares several startling statistics related to motorists who memorialize roadside accidents with their smartphones (all while behind the wheel):
- 71 percent of motorists take pictures or videos of emergency vehicles responding to dangerous accidents – and even routine traffic stops – on our roadways
- 60 percent of motorists post their handiwork to social media
- 66 percent email or text about their findings
Again, all of this transpires while motorists are behind the wheel. First responders are obviously in considerable danger from drivers who allow themselves to become distracted by the work of these emergency workers.
The Job of a First Responder
It is the first responder's job to care for victims at accident scenes, and they face considerable danger in the process. Distracted driving, however, should not be one of those dangers. First responders bravely take on the immense responsibility of helping to keep all of us safe, and it is a cruel irony that drivers allow themselves to become gratuitously distracted by the drama that unfolds on our roadways – thus further endangering first responders.
Move Over Laws
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) requires all motorists to move over or slow down whenever they find themselves approaching a stopped police, fire, emergency, or TxDOT vehicle with flashing overhead blue or amber lights. Unfortunately, not all drivers heed this dictate, and NSC shares statistics to back this up:
- 19 percent of all drivers admit that their inattention likely put first responders in harm’s way
- 24 percent of drivers do not recognize there are laws in place regarding passing emergency vehicles on the side of the road
- 80 percent of drivers slow down to get a better look at emergencies and traffic stops – in other words, they are motivated by distraction rather than by safety (slowing down unnecessarily is dangerous)
When you are behind the wheel of your vehicle, driving safely should be your primary concern. Emergency workers on the side of the road are doing their jobs and must be afforded every safety precaution possible.