Mike Wilbur

STUDY: Drivers Are MORE Distracted Around Emergency Vehicles!

According to a survey released today by the National Safety Council and the Emergency Responder Safety Institute, 71% of U.S. drivers take photos or videos when they see an emergency vehicle on the side of the road responding to a fire or a crash, or simply making a routine traffic stop. Sixty percent post to social media, and 66% send an email about the situation – all while behind the wheel. Those distracting behaviors are markedly less frequent, but still alarming, during normal driving conditions – 24% of drivers surveyed said they take photos or video while driving, 29% admitted to using social media and 24% said they send email.

Worse still, 16% – more than 1 in 10 – said they either have struck or nearly struck a Firefighter, Police officer, EMT or related first responder or emergency vehicle stopped on or near the road. In spite of all this, 89% of drivers say they believe distracted motorists are a major source of risk to first responders.

NSC is releasing the survey during Distracted Driving Awareness Month,

(Check this video: https://www.nsc.org/road-safety/get-involved/distracted-driving-awareness-month )

….observed every April to raise awareness and educate about the importance of being attentive behind the wheel. Funding for the survey was provided to the Cumberland Valley Volunteer Firemen’s Association through the FEMA Fire Prevention and Firefighter Safety Grant Program.

In 2013, 37 people died in crashes involving ambulances, fire trucks or police cars, and an additional 17,028 were injured.

Since January of this year, 16 emergency responders have been struck and killed by vehicles. Sadly, 49% of survey respondents said possibly being struck by a vehicle is “just part of the risk” of being a first responder.

Other important findings from the poll include:

19% of drivers admit their own inattentive driving has probably put first responders at unnecessary risk
Despite being willing to engage in risky behaviors while driving around emergency vehicles, 62% say they are “above average” drivers when passing an emergency vehicle with its lights flashing on the side of the road
24% 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
Even though 97% say they will see an emergency vehicle if it has its flashing lights on, 74% would still like responders to wear reflective clothing
80% of drivers say they slow down to get a better look when they see an emergency response vehicle tending to a fire, crash or traffic stop. Doing so backs up traffic and creates other safety hazards.
Encouragingly, 67% have heard of “Move Over” laws and 73% say they move over when they see an emergency vehicle stopped on the side of the road with its lights on – the proper response on nearly all roadways
The full survey and methodology are available at nsc.org/firstrespondersurvey. For more information about Distracted Driving Awareness Month, visit nsc.org/ddmonth.

Well, now what do we do? “Shut the road down”… more and more appears to be the emerging choice…but not so easy. Some FD’s are applying portable “rumble strips” on highway scenes and others using large apparatus to block…some suggest that electronic / technical solutions are coming soon-where cars are SLOWED DOWN automatically around scenes…

With FDIC next week, be sure to stop by Responder Safety’s booth (10042) as well as WHELEN Engineering at 922 to find out what they are all doing to help protect us on the roadways.

HERE is the entire article:

https://www.nsc.org/in-the-newsroom/drivers-more-distracted-around-emergency-vehicles

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