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Driver poll reveals safety risks for emergency responders

Passing an accident scene where firefighters, police or emergency medical technicians are working is an inevitable part of Pennsylvania driving. These first responders face a heightened risk of injury or death when working on the sides of roads because of distracted drivers. A poll sponsored by the National Safety Council and Emergency Responder Safety Institute identified driver behaviors that create hazards for people responding to accident scenes.

A clear majority at 80% of respondents reported that they slow down when passing accidents. The slowing traffic, however, sometimes produces additional safety hazards on a busy road. Nearly 20% of inattentive drivers acknowledged that they had created dangers for first responders. Most people realized that they should move over to give extra space to accident scenes, which is the proper course of action. While 67% knew about move over laws, 40% of poll respondents viewed traffic hazards as something first responders had to accept.

Data from 2013 illustrates the dangers. Thirty-seven fatalities directly involved police cars, ambulances and fire trucks. In 2019, 16 emergency responders have so far been killed by vehicles. A representative from the Emergency Responder Safety Institute said that the organization has focused resources on educating the public to pay close attention when driving by accidents.

All drivers have a responsibility to keep their attention on the road. Motor vehicle accidents resulting from distraction, speeding, intoxication or failure to yield can leave victims with serious injuries. A person hurt by a negligent driver might want legal support before approaching an insurance company or filing a lawsuit. Legal counsel could attend to tasks like analyzing insurance coverage, collecting evidence about the crash and calculating the total cost of the accident. By managing these tasks, an attorney could help the victim collect a settlement that relieves financial hardship.

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