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Survey shows many drivers get distracted by emergency vehicles

The National Safety Council and Emergency Responder Safety Institute recently conducted a survey asking drivers what they do when they observe an emergency vehicle on the side of the road. Georgia residents may not be surprised to hear that 71% of respondents said they take photos or videos. This was regardless of whether the vehicle was conducting a routine traffic stop or responding to a fire or crash. Another 60% said they post on social media about it, and 66% email someone.

This behavior poses a risk to first responders when they exit those emergency vehicles to help others. In the first four months of 2019, 16 first responders were struck and killed by vehicles. Not surprisingly, 16% of respondents admitted that they had struck or nearly struck a first responder or emergency vehicle. While 89% recognized the danger of distracted driving poses to first responders, only 19% thought their own driving could pose the same danger.

Overall, 73% of respondents say they do the right thing and move away from stopped emergency vehicles. Still, 24 percent do not even know there are legal requirements for how drivers should conduct themselves around such vehicles. All the same, 62 percent believe their driving is "above average" around emergency vehicles.

An emergency responder who is involved in a car accident might be able to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver's auto insurance company. If phone use was what distracted the driver, phone records can prove it clearly enough. A victim may want to hire a lawyer, who in turn may hire investigators and medical experts to help strengthen the case. The lawyer could handle all negotiations for a settlement, taking the case to court as a last resort.

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