Distracted drivers are a risk to first responders at crash scenes

Written by
Abraham Jaros
Updated on Friday, Mar 8, 2024

We all put our lives at risk when we drive on the roads in and around New York City. However, the people who respond when things go wrong and a crash occurs are at particular risk of being stuck and seriously — maybe fatally — injured.

When drivers see first responders at a crash site, they should slow down and, if possible, get into a lane farther from the situation. That’s not just safe driving. It’s the law. New York’s Move Over Law requires drivers to slow down and move over when it’s safe as soon as they see emergency, construction or maintenance vehicles or tow trucks and/or workers. All states have similar laws.

Unfortunately, some drivers decide to pull out their phones and take photos or videos of the scene — while continuing to drive. Some even take the time to post them on social media.

Other drivers decide to send a text or email to tell others about the crash. Whether they do this to notify someone that they’ll be late, to warn them to avoid the area or simply to share the news is irrelevant. They’re endangering those in other vehicles and especially the people who are standing unprotected on the shoulder or the road itself.

Sadly, many people aren’t ashamed to admit that they engage in this dangerous behavior. In a recent survey by the National Safety Council, over 70% of drivers said that they had texted or taken photos as they drove by first responders. Two-thirds admitted to emailing someone about the situation. Sixty percent confessed to posting about the scene on social media.

This behavior can be deadly. Last year, 40 first responders lost their lives as they worked along a road. That was a 60% increase over the previous year. It only seems to be getting worse. So far this year, 21 first responders have been fatally struck.

One fire captain says that some drivers are attracted to lights and sirens. He says, “I’ll venture to say it’s very common to see somebody either on their phone or taking their phone out to try to videotape or get a snap of what’s going on."

If you’re struck by a distracted driver, it’s essential to get the compensation you need to deal with your injuries, lost income and other expenses and damages. Having experienced guidance can make a big difference.

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You can reach partner Abraham Jaros directly, either call his cell 917-842-9544, or email him at ajaros@lawjaros.com. Or call Jaroslawicz & Jaros at 212 227 2780 in New York, or toll free 800-269-2780, or submit an online questionnaire.