When teens first learn to drive, they’re taught to leave plenty of room on the road between their vehicle and first responders headed to or at the scene of a crash. All states have some version of a “move over” law for drivers who encounter first responders along the road.
However, in an age where everything becomes fodder for a social media post, many drivers actually pull out their phones and take photos or videos of crash scenes. Still others take the time to text or email the location and other details about the crash.
A recent study by the National Safety Council (NSC) had some disturbing findings. Over 70% of drivers surveyed admitted that they had taken photos or sent texts when they encountered emergency workers on the road. That’s far above the almost 25% who confessed to doing these things under normal conditions. Two-thirds admitted to sending an email about the activity as they passed by it. Sixty percent acknowledged that they had posted something about first responder activity on the road to social media.
Using your phone while driving is never safe. However, when drivers are doing it around first responders on or near the road, the consequences can be devastating — and the number of first responders suffering fatal consequences is growing. Last year, 40 were killed along American roads. With this year less than halfway over, 21 have been killed. Nearly half of these (10) were police officers.
Ironically, one of these videos captured a trooper getting hit by a car last December as he was working an accident on the shoulder of an interstate. The car that hit him veered into a lane that had been closed to allow workers to manage the crash. The trooper was able to throw someone else to safety before he was struck.
Fortunately, he lived to talk about it, although he hasn’t yet returned to full duty. He even brought a CBS News reporter back to the scene to talk about the dangers of distracted driving around accident scenes.
If you or a loved one is a first responder who suffered an injury due to the carelessness of a distracted driver ignoring the law, it’s essential to get the compensation you need and deserve. You may be able to seek workers’ compensation and/or be able to hold the driver liable in civil court.