National Safety Council: Most Motorists Rubberneck At Emergency Scenes

Published on April 04, 2019 02:06 PM in Safe Driving, Getting There
National Safety Council: Most Motorists Rubberneck At Emergency Scenes

More than 70 percent of U.S. drivers polled admit to taking pictures or shooting video when they see an emergency vehicle on the side of the road, according to a survey from the National Safety Council and the Emergency Responder Safety Institute. 

“The cruel irony is, we are putting the people who are trying to improve safety in very unsafe situations,” said Nick Smith, interim president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “Our emergency responders deserve the highest levels of protection as they grapple with situations that are not only tactically difficult but also emotionally taxing. Save your communications for off the road; disconnect and just drive.”

Distracted driving claims thousands of lives every year, according to the NSC, a safety advocacy group committed to reducing preventable deaths. The NSC survey was released in April because it is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. 

Emergency responders are especially vulnerable to distracted drivers, as their attention is generally turned away from traffic, safety officials said.

“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,” said Greg Yost, President of the Cumberland Valley Volunteer Firemen’s Association, parent organization of the Emergency Responder Safety Institute.

The joint survey polled 2,001 motorists. Survey participants needed to be 21 or older and spend at least 15 minutes a day driving. 

Other facts found by the survey:

  • 19 percent of drivers admit their own inattentive driving has probably put first responders at unnecessary risk.
     
  • 62 percent say they are “above average” drivers when passing an emergency vehicle with its lights flashing on the side of the road, despite admitting to be willing to engage in risky behaviors while driving around emergency vehicles.
     
  • 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.
     
  • 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. 
     
  • 67 percent have heard of “Move Over” laws and 73 percent say they pull over when they see an emergency vehicle stopped with its lights on – the proper response on nearly all roadways.