According to a recent study, the frequency of distracted driving behavior, including texting and driving and the like, skyrockets when motorists are passing through the scene of an accident or another roadside emergency where first responders, like police officers and firefighters, are present.
Specifically, the study by the National Safety Council concluded that, around accidents, over 70% of motorists admittedly either took pictures of the accident on their phones or sent a text, presumably about the accident. In other conditions, only about 25% of motorists are engaging in texting and driving. Additionally, 60% of motorists said that they quickly posted to their social media accounts about the accident, while about 2 out of 3 motorists said that they had sent an email while driving.
This habit has taken its toll on first responders throughout the United States, including in North Carolina. The number of first responders killed on the roads in 2018 was up 60% over the number in 2017, and this year’s number is on pace to be even higher than it was in 2018. This is not surprising, especially since 16% of motorists who were asked said that they had at least one near miss with a first responder working on the side of the road.
Rubbernecking has always been a hazard for first responders, but, with modern technology, it is becoming a bigger problem. Drivers simply must pay attention to the road, and not what is on the roadside, as they pass through the scene of an accident. Drivers should certainly should not take their eyes and minds off the road by using their phones, as doing so can turn a property damage accident in to a tragedy involving a first responder who was only doing his or her job. In these situations, the victims and their families may have a number of legal options. Beyond workers’ compensation, it may be possible for victims to pursue a personal injury case against the negligent driver.