A previous post on this blog talked about how highway workers in Louisiana are frequently endangered by inattentive drivers or motorists who choose to ignore warnings and speed through work zones. To follow up on this post, it turns out that according to one study, first responders, like police officers and fire and rescue teams, also frequently face the possibility of injury or even death at the hands of careless motorists.
The study suggested that distracted driving around the scene of an accident or roadside emergency, to which police and others respond, is a particular problem. Drivers surveyed as part of the study admitted that they have an exceptionally hard time not giving in to the temptation to reach for their phones.
Under normal circumstances, only 24% of respondents admitted to texting and driving, while the number was 71% among drivers around the scenes of accidents. Drivers freely confessed to sending a text to others as they passed the scene of the accident, and they also admitted to snapping photographs of the scene. Additionally, 60% of respondents said they promptly posted something about the accident on their social media accounts, while about 66% of respondents said they emailed about the accident.
Not surprisingly, this sort of behavior around the scenes of accidents tends to lead to more accidents which often involve first responders. It is no wonder, then, that the number of first responders killed thus far in 2019 is on track to surpass the number from last year. The 2018 numbers were 60% higher than the number of fatalities reported in 2017.
These sorts of car accidents are usually preventable, as motorists simply need to slow down at the scene of an accident and pay careful attention to the road, not the rescue workers. Public servants who get hurt by negligent drivers while simply doing their jobs may have legal options to pursue compensation.