New research shows that many drivers are profoundly distracted by their phones when they're going past first responders working accidents on the roadways. New research from the National Safety Council found 71% of drivers admitted to taking photos and texting while driving by emergency workers; that's nearly triple the 24% who admitted to doing it under normal driving conditions. Sixty percent admitted to posting to social media; two-thirds have emailed about what they're driving by.
And the results are increasingly deadly. Sixteen percent of drivers say they've struck or nearly struck an emergency vehicle or first responder on the side of the road. Forty first responders were killed on the side of the road last year, up 60% from 2017. And so far this year, 21 have died, including 10 police officers; 14 officers were hit and killed in all of 2018.
"What surprised us most about this study was the magnitude of people who are really exercising very dangerous behavior," said Kelly Nantel of the National Safety Council. "They're adding another level of exposure to these first responders."