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71% of drivers admit to taking photos of stopped emergency vehicles

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Twenty four percent of respondents to safety survey said they 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. (©2019 FOTOSEARCH)        

MIAMI – According to a survey released Wednesday by the National Safety Council and the Emergency Responder Safety Institute, 71 percent of U.S. drivers take photos or videos when they see an emergency vehicle on the side of the road responding to a fire or a crash, or simply making a routine traffic stop.

Sixty percent post to social media, and 66 percent send an email about the situation — all while behind the wheel.

Those distracting behaviors are markedly less frequent, but still alarming, during normal driving conditions — 24 percent of drivers surveyed said they take photos or video while driving, 29 percent admitted to using social media and 24 percent said they send email.

Worse still, 16 percent — more than 1 in 10 — said they either have struck or nearly struck a first responder or emergency vehicle stopped on or near the road. In spite of all this, 89 percent of drivers say they believe distracted motorists are a major source of risk to first responders.

NSC is releasing the survey during Distracted Driving Awareness Month, observed every April to raise awareness and educate about the importance of being attentive behind the wheel. Funding for the survey was provided to the Cumberland Valley Volunteer Firemen’s Association through the FEMA Fire Prevention and Firefighter Safety Grant Program.

“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.”

Thousands die each year in distracted driving crashes, though National Safety Council investigations show these crashes are significantly underreported and undercounted. Emergency responders are particularly vulnerable, because they exit their vehicles and tend to situations on active roadways. In 2013, 37 people died in crashes involving ambulances, fire trucks or police cars, and an additional 17,028 were injured. Since January, 16 emergency responders have been struck and killed by vehicles. Sadly, 49 percent of survey respondents said possibly being struck by a vehicle is “just part of the risk” of being a first responder.

“The Emergency Responder Safety Institute was born 21 years ago following the tragedy of two highway incidents that took the lives of first responders who were struck while helping others,” said Greg Yost, President of the Cumberland Valley Volunteer Firemen’s Association, parent organization of the Emergency Responder Safety Institute. “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,” he said.

Other important findings from the poll include:

  • 19 percent of drivers admit their own inattentive driving has probably put first responders at unnecessary risk
  • Despite being willing to engage in risky behaviors while driving around emergency vehicles, 62 percent say they are “above average” drivers when passing an emergency vehicle with its lights flashing on the side of the road
  • 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
  • Even though 97 percent say they will see an emergency vehicle if it has its flashing lights on, 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. Doing so backs up traffic and creates other safety hazards.
  • Encouragingly, 67 percent have heard of “Move Over” laws and 73 percent say they move over when they see an emergency vehicle stopped on the side of the road with its lights on – the proper response on nearly all roadways

“Those that serve the public are exposed to a number of risks, including risks from those that they serve,” said I. David Daniels, chair of the NSC Government and Public Sector Division, which initiated the NSC-ERSI partnership. “These two organizations’ joint efforts will most certainly help increase safety for public sector workers and reduce communities’ costs incurred from vehicle crashes involving public employees.”

 

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. James Stark

    April 3, 2019 at 3:52 pm

    Emergency response vehicles warning “beacons” are part of the problem of distraction; These vehicles have way too many blinding lights, especially to large trucks where drivers eye level is 8 feet above the pavement; The intensity & focus of these “Star Wars laser shows” needs to be studied & redesigned; This “overkill” of annoying strobes actually makes it harder or impossible to see the workers; When drivers see a light of “any” color, they tend to suddenly decelerate & cause traffic backup unnecessarily…

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The Nation

Big rig loaded with mail crashes in Little Rock; tractor ends up on guard rail

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Part of a tractor hangs over the Interstate 440 railing after the driver couldn’t decide which ramp to take and crashed. (Courtesy: ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The old saying about those who deliver the mail goes something like this: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

But Sunday some indecision did.

The Arkansas Department of Transportation posted on its social media site that the driver of a tractor-trailer carrying a load of mail couldn’t decide which ramp to take off Interstate 440 Terminal Interchange with Interstate 30 and ended up striking the guard rail.

The tractor separated from the trailer and wound up hanging partially over the bridge railing.

Officials said one of the tractor’s fuel tanks became dislodged and fell onto Interstate 30 below causing an explosion and fire.

The driver was taken to a hospital, but her condition is unknown.

Traffic was delayed on both I-30 and I-440 which is the main thoroughfare between Little Rock and the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.

 

 

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Colorado DOT kicks off project to install media cable barriers on I-25

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DENVER — The Colorado Department of Transportation kicked off a seven-month project in June that aims to install new median cable barriers along Interstate 25 between Pueblo and Colorado Springs as a safety measure to prevent median crossover crashes.

According to an article in the Journal of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the Colorado agency noted in a June 14 statement that it is using a “multi-phased approach” based on vehicle crash history and traffic volumes to specifically locate the new cable median barriers – part of its Whole System – Whole Safety initiative that takes a systematic approach to safety that includes driving behaviors, the built environment, and operations.

“Improving the safety of Colorado’s transportation network by reducing the rate and severity of crashes and improving safety conditions for travelers is our main goal,” Shoshana Lew, executive director of the Colorado DOT, said in a statement. “The statewide program’s whole system approach is unique in how it brings together all areas of the driving experience, resulting in improved and enhanced safety for motorists.”

The $3.5 million project – expected to be completed by December – will remove any existing barrier structures and replace it with media cable barrier along with “added offset” from the travel lane and flattened median side slopes.

That will continue to eliminate vehicle cross-over crashes, the agency noted, while additionally reducing nuisance hits as the northbound cable barrier can be removed. The net effect will allow better maintenance access, reduced maintenance costs, better traffic flow, and further enhancing safety, Colorado DOT said.

A 68-page study wrapped up last year by the Center for Transportation Research and Education at Iowa State University determined that cable median barriers “significantly” reduce motor vehicle crash fatalities and injuries, though they do lead to an increase in “property-damage only” crashes, according to the collected data examined by the school’s researchers.

That study found that out of the 6,718 median-related crashes it examined over a nine-year period stretching from 2007 to 2015, cable media barrier safety devices reduced fatalities, incapacitating injuries, and non-incapacitating injuries by 68.7, 36.8, and 23.9 percent, respectively.

 

 

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The Nation

Love’s opens new facilities in Michigan, Illinois and Pennsylvania

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The Hampshire, Illinois, location is located at 201 Love’s Crossing near Interstate 90 and U.S. Highway 20. (Courtesy: LOVE’S TRAVEL STOPS)

OKLAHOMA CITY — Love’s Travel Stops is now serving customers in three new locations — Bridgeport Charter Township, Michigan; Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania; and Hampshire, Illinois.

The Bridgeport Charter Township location at 6560 Dixie Highway (near Interstate 75 and Exit 144) adds 80 new jobs to Saginaw County and 87 truck parking spaces.

The Slippery Rock stop off Exit 105 and I-79, brings 40 jobs and 48 truck parking spaces.

The third location in Hampshire at 201 Love’s Crossing (near Interstate 90 and U.S. Highway 20), has 177 truck parking spaces and brings 80 jobs.

In total, Love’s is adding 312 truck parking spaces for professional drivers.

“These three locations place us in the perfect spots to serve more customers,” said Tom Love, executive chairman and founder of Love’s. “All are along major interstates that are popular for trade routes and leisure travel. We’re proud to add truck parking in areas where our customers need it.”

The travel stops are open 24/7 and offer many amenities.

Bridgeport, Michigan

More than 12,000 square feet of space, Hardee’s restaurant, 87 truck parking spaces, 87 car parking spaces, eight diesel bays, Speedco location on-site, four RV parking spaces, eight showers, laundry facilities, bean to cup gourmet coffee, brand-name snacks, Mobile to Go Zone with the latest electronics, CAT scale.

Hampshire, Illinois

More than 10,000 square feet of space, Arby’s restaurant, 177 truck parking spaces, 53 car parking spaces, nine diesel bays, Speedco location on-site, three RV parking spaces, seven showers, laundry facilities, bean to cup gourmet coffee, brand-name snacks, Mobile to Go Zone with the latest electronics, CAT scale.

Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania

More than 10,000 square feet of space, Subway restaurant, 48 truck parking spaces, 60 car parking spaces, seven diesel bays, Love’s Truck Tire Care center, two RV parking spaces, six showers, laundry facilities, bean to cup gourmet coffee, brand-name snacks, Mobile to Go Zone with the latest electronics, CAT scale.

In honor of the grand opening, Love’s will host ribbon cuttings and donate $2,000 to the Bridgeport Historical Society, Northern Butler County Feed My Sheep Food Cupboard in Slippery Rock and Hampshire High School.

 

 

 

 

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