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NSC survey shows driver distraction puts first responders at risk

The National Safety Council and the Emergency Responder Safety Institute conducted a survey to find out just how much of a danger distracted driving can be to first responders. In the first four months of 2019 alone, 16 first responders have been struck and killed by vehicles while helping others. Illinois residents should know that 16 percent of the survey respondents admitted to hitting or almost hitting a first responder or emergency vehicle.

Seventy-one percent of the respondents said they take photos or videos of emergency vehicles, even when those vehicles are doing nothing more than making a routine traffic stop. Sixty percent post about it on social media, while 66 percent send an email about it.

At the same time, 89 percent acknowledged that distracted driving is a danger to first responders. Only 19 percent, though, were aware that their own inattentive driving is a danger. Forty percent said that distracted drivers are “just part of the risk” of being a first responder.

“Move Over” laws require drivers to move away from emergency vehicles that are stopped on the roadside. Two-thirds of respondents were aware of the laws, and 73 percent said they do move over. Despite their overall willingness to engage in unsafe behaviors, 62 percent of survey respondents said they are “above average” drivers when passing emergency vehicles.

First responders who are injured at the hands of a negligent driver may have good grounds for filing a claim so long as they are not found to have been negligent at the time of the accident. Hiring a personal injury lawyer might be a good idea for those who wish to seek damages. A lawyer may bring in crash investigators to obtain a copy of the police report and any physical evidence at the crash site.