Page 2 of 2

Drivers More Distracted Around Emergency Vehicles, Endangering First Responders: NSC

According to a survey released Wednesday by the National Safety Council and the Emergency Responder Safety Institute, 71 percent of U.S. drivers take photos or videos when they see an emergency vehicle, whether it’s making a routine traffic stop or responding to a fire or crash.

The Council released the survey results in observance of Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Survey funding was provided to the Cumberland Valley Volunteer Firemen’s Association through the FEMA Fire Prevention and Firefighter Safety Grant Program. The survey results highlight the behaviors of the driving public related to the safety of first responders.  

Of those surveyed, 60 percent said that when they see an emergency vehicle, they post about it to social media, and 66 percent send an email about it – with all of these behaviors occurring while they’re behind the wheel. Even under normal driving conditions, 24 percent of drivers surveyed said they take photos or video while driving, 29 percent said they use social media, and 24 percent said they send email.

More than 1 in 10 respondents—16 percent—said they have either struck or almost struck a first responder or emergency vehicle stopped on or near the road. Despite these responses, 89 percent of drivers said they believe distracted drivers are a major source of risk to first responders.

“The cruel irony is, we are putting the people who are trying to improve safety in very unsafe situations,” said Nick Smith, interim president and CEO of NSC. “Our emergency responders deserve the highest levels of protection as they grapple with situations that are not only tactically difficult but also emotionally taxing. Save your communications for off the road; disconnect and just drive.”

Thousands of people die each year in crashes involving distracted driving, though the Council’s investigations show that these crashes are significantly underreported and undercounted. Emergency responders are at particular risk because they exit their vehicles and attend to emergency situations on active roadways.

In 2013, 37 people died in crashes involving fire trucks, police cars, or ambulances, and an additional 17,028 people were injured. Since January of this year, 16 emergency responders have been struck and killed by vehicles. Unfortunately, 40 percent of survey respondents said that the potential for being struck by a vehicle is “just part of the risk” of being a first responder.

“The Emergency Responder Safety Institute was born 21 years ago following the tragedy of two highway incidents that took the lives of first responders who were struck while helping others,” said Greg Yost, President of the Cumberland Valley Volunteer Firemen’s Association, parent organization of the Emergency Responder Safety Institute. “Because of distracted driving, we’ve been focusing our efforts on educating drivers who are often not paying careful enough attention when passing emergency scenes. In 2019, already 16 responders have lost their lives and many others have been injured in these types of crashes,” he added.

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 percent say they are “above average” drivers when passing an emergency vehicle with its lights flashing on the side of the road
  • 24 percent 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 percent say they will see an emergency vehicle if it has its flashing lights on, 74% would still like responders to wear reflective clothing
  • 80 percent 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.
  • 67 percent have heard of “Move Over” laws and 73 percent 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 its methodology can be found here.

Download Center

  • OSHA Recordkeeping Guide

    In case you missed it, OSHA recently initiated an enforcement program to identify employers who fail to electronically submit Form 300A recordkeeping data to the agency. When it comes to OSHA recordkeeping, there are always questions regarding the requirements and ins and outs. This guide is here to help! We’ll explain reporting, recording, and online reporting requirements in detail.

  • Incident Investigations Guide

    If your organization has experienced an incident resulting in a fatality, injury, illness, environmental exposure, property damage, or even a quality issue, it’s important to perform an incident investigation to determine how this happened and learn what you can do to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps of performing an incident investigation.

  • Lone Worker Guide

    Lone workers exist in every industry and include individuals such as contractors, self-employed people, and those who work off-site or outside normal hours. These employees are at increased risk for unaddressed workplace accidents or emergencies, inadequate rest and breaks, physical violence, and more. To learn more about lone worker risks and solutions, download this informative guide.

  • Job Hazard Analysis Guide

    This guide includes details on how to conduct a thorough Job Hazard Analysis, and it's based directly on an OSHA publication for conducting JHAs. Download the guide to learn how to identify potential hazards associated with each task of a job and set controls to mitigate hazard risks.

  • The Basics of Incident Investigations Webinar

    Without a proper incident investigation, it becomes difficult to take preventative measures and implement corrective actions. Watch this on-demand webinar for a step-by-step process of a basic incident investigation, how to document your incident investigation findings and analyze incident data, and more. 

  • Vector Solutions

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - November December 2022

    November December 2022

    Featuring:

    • IH: GAS DETECTION
      The Evolution of Gas Detection
    • OSHA TOP 10
      OSHA's Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards for FY 2022
    • FALL PROTECTION
      Enhance Your Fall Protection Program with Technology
    • 90TH ANNIVERSARY
      The Future: How Safety WIll Continue to Evolve
    View This Issue