According to a recent study, first responders, like police officers, paramedics and firefighters and even tow truck operators, are particularly vulnerable to getting injured by a distracted driver.
Not only are first responders unprotected from a distracted driver who may run off the road while the responder is assisting a motorist, it seems that the frequency of distracted driving spikes around the scene of an accident. In other words, our technology has taken rubbernecking to a whole new level.
The recent study, performed by the National Safety Council, concluded that over 70% of all drivers acknowledged texting and driving when around the scene of an accident or where first responders were present.
In the study, texting and driving included both literally sending a text message and taking photographs of the scene. The study found that many drivers would later send the photos via text or email. Over half of the drivers asked, 60%, admitted to posting to social media while driving by an accident.
When compared with the almost 25% of drivers who admit to texting and driving when traffic is flowing smoothly, these numbers are staggering. Sadly, the risk to first responders seems to be increasing as a result.
Data suggests that over 15% of drivers acknowledge that they came close to hitting either a first responder or his or her vehicle while the first responder was handling a roadside emergency. Furthermore, the number of first responders who died on the side of the road in 2018 was 60% higher than the same number in 2017.
First responders who get hurt in a motor vehicle accident that happens while they are alongside the road performing their duties may have legal options. In addition to collecting any workers' compensation benefits available, they may be able to pursue a negligent driver for additional compensation.