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Distracted drivers a threat to emergency responders

If New Yorkers are like many American drivers, they tend to gawk at emergency vehicles when they encounter accident scenes on roadways. Unfortunately, this type of behavior places first responders at risk of injuries that can sometimes be fatal.

According to a survey by the National Safety Council and the Emergency Responder Safety Institute, 80 percent of U.S. drivers admit that they slow down when they drive past emergency vehicles attending an accident scene. In addition, 71 percent of drivers say they take photos or videos of emergency vehicles responding to accidents, 66 percent say they send emails about seeing emergency vehicles and 60 percent say they post information about accident scenes on social media outlets.

Experts say drivers who engage in such behaviors endanger the lives of first responders. This is because emergency personnel have to exit their vehicles to render aid and are vulnerable to being struck by distracted drivers. In 2013, 37 people were killed in accidents involving emergency vehicles and 17,028 were injured. At least 16 emergency workers have been hit and killed by vehicles in 2019. According to the survey, 19 percent of drivers believe they put first responders at risk with their distracted driving behaviors. Meanwhile, only 73 percent of drivers say they obey laws requiring them to move over when they see emergency vehicles with their lights on at the side of the road.

Victims of car accidents often suffer catastrophic injuries that leave them unable to work for long periods of time. In some cases, victims are even left with permanent disabilities. A personal injury attorney could prepare a lawsuit seeking compensation for damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

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