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Drivers distracted by emergency vehicles imperil first responders

First responders in New York are always in danger of being struck by vehicles when helping others on the side of the road. Already, 16 first responders have been struck and killed in the first four months of 2019. This is because drivers tend to become distracted around emergency vehicles. A new survey shows that driver distraction is more common than some might think.

First of all, 80 percent of survey respondents said they slow down to get a better look when passing emergency vehicles. This is regardless of whether the vehicle has made a traffic stop or is responding to a crash or fire. Second, 71 percent said they take photos or videos while 66 percent email someone about the incident and 60 percent post on social media regarding it.

Sixteen percent admitted to hitting or nearly hitting a first responder or parked emergency vehicle. While 89 percent said they recognize the risk that distracted drivers pose to first responders, a meager 19 percent thought of their own inattentive driving as contributing to that risk. Overall, 62 percent feel they are "above average" drivers when they pass the vehicles with 73 percent saying they move over when such vehicles are on the roadside with their lights on.

First responders or other workers who are injured in a motor vehicle crash through no fault of their own may consider a claim against the driver's auto insurance company. After all, distracted driving is a form of negligence, and there are "Move Over" laws in place to protect emergency vehicles. If victims hire a lawyer, he or she may be able to negotiate for a fair settlement after third parties have gathered all the necessary proof of negligence. Victims may decide to litigate if negotiations fail.

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