Picture-snapping drivers putting roadside responders at risk, NSC survey shows

car crash
Photo: tillsonburg/iStockphoto

Itasca, IL — Seventy-one percent 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, and 16% of these drivers struck or nearly struck a first responder or the emergency vehicle, according to the results of a survey released April 3 by the National Safety Council and the Emergency Responder Safety Institute.

In addition, 60% of drivers post to social media and 66% send an email about the situation – all while behind the wheel. The survey results also show that, during normal non-emergency conditions, 24% percent of drivers said they take photos or video, 29% percent admitted to using social media and 24% percent said they send email.

Despite this, 89 percent of drivers surveyed 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,” Nick Smith, interim president and CEO of NSC, said in an April 3 press release. “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.”

NSC is releasing the results of the survey during Distracted Driving Awareness Month, observed every April to raise awareness and educate about the importance of being attentive behind the wheel.

Help combat this issue by pledging to drive distraction-free.