April 3, 2019 was a ‘Red Letter Day’ for the Emergency Responder Safety Institute and Respondersafety.com. A major press conference was held at the Miami, Florida Fire Department. The results of a joint ERSI/National Safety Council survey on distracted driving were made public at the event in Miami.
According to a survey released today by the National Safety Counciland the *Emergency Responder Safety Institute, *71 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, or simply making a routine traffic stop. Sixty percent post to social media, and 66 percent send an email about the situation – all while behind the wheel. Those distracting behaviors are markedly less frequent, but still alarming, during normal driving conditions – 24 percent of drivers surveyed said they take photos or video while driving, 29 percent admitted to using social media and 24 percent said they send email.
These responses will serve as the basis for our new educational efforts in the area of distracted drivers. “The Emergency Responder Safety Institute was born 21 years ago following the tragedy of two highway incidents that took the lives of first responders who were struck while helping others,” said Greg Yost, President of the Cumberland Valley Volunteer Firemen’s Association, parent organization of the Emergency Responder Safety Institute. “Because of distracted driving, we’ve been focusing our efforts on educating drivers who are often not paying careful enough attention when passing emergency scenes. In 2019, already 16 responders have lost their lives and many others have been injured in these types of crashes,” he added.
Other important findings from the poll include:
· 19 percent of drivers admit their own inattentive driving has probably put first responders at unnecessary risk
· Despite being willing to engage in risky behaviors while driving around emergency vehicles, 62 percent say they are “above average” drivers when passing an emergency vehicle with its lights flashing on the side of the road
· 24 percent do not realize that there are legal requirements for what drivers must do when they see an emergency vehicle on the side of the road
· Even though 97 percent say they will see an emergency vehicle if it has its flashing lights on, 74 percent would still like responders to wear reflective clothing
· 80 percent of drivers say they slow down to get a better look when they see an emergency response vehicle tending to a fire, crash or traffic stop. Doing so backs up traffic and creates other safety hazards.
· Encouragingly, 67 percent have heard of “Move Over” laws and 73 percent say they move over when they see an emergency vehicle stopped on the side of the road with its lights on – the proper response on nearly all roadways
“Those that serve the public are exposed to a number of risks, including risks from those that they serve,” said I. David Daniels, chair of the NSC Government and Public Sector Division, which initiated the NSC-ERSI partnership. “These two organizations’ joint efforts will most certainly help increase safety for public sector workers and reduce communities’ costs incurred from vehicle crashes involving public employees.”
After more than two decades on work on highway safety-related matters for our responder community, the time has come to take the next step. We must reach out to educate the driving community in North America. We need to show the public what they must do to keep us safety when we operating on the highways and byways of response areas. We have a continuing need to train our own personnel. We now have a new task which involves reaching out to the general public.
We here at Respondersafety.com would urge you to review the full report. The survey and methodology are available at nsc.org/firstrespondersurvey. For more information about Distracted Driving Awareness Month, visit nsc.org/ddmonth.