According to the results of a 2014 survey conducted by the California Office of Traffic Safety, nearly three out of every four people responding reported accidents or near-accidents that involved drivers distracted by their use of electronic hand-held devices such as cell phones. What is especially frightening is that distracted driving isn’t limited to your everyday commuter. Even emergency vehicle drivers can and have caused accidents due to distracted driving.
According to the California Highway Patrol, drivers of emergency vehicles in 2013 were at fault in 180 collisions (up from 165 the year before). Of those 180 collisions, using an electronic device was a known factor in 48 of them (up from 26 the year before). This seems to confirm a report by the Los Angeles Daily News that accidents caused by distracted drivers of ambulances, police cars and even fire trucks has gone up over 120 percent in the past ten years.
In the past two years alone, accidents involving emergency vehicle drivers who were distracted have led to a shocking 140 injuries along with at least three fatalities. In one instance, a police deputy was busy typing into his vehicle’s computer when he struck a bicyclist. Another officer was using his cellphone when he struck another vehicle. The third occurred when a fire unit chief was distracted by a hands-free device and rear-ended another vehicle. Three fatalities may not seem like a lot—unless of course you or a loved one are among those three.
Why is this Happening?
According to the Los Angeles Daily News, a major contributing factor here has to do with the use of the very same technology that allows emergency responders to do their jobs. Consider: these drivers use increasingly more complex technology, technology that is much harder to use than a simple cell phone. They are also operating at high speeds and under higher states of stress. Emergency vehicle drivers are often exempt from state laws that ban the use of handheld devices, since they might very well need them to do their jobs. Additionally, the same policies that make it illegal for regular drivers to use these devices do not necessarily apply to emergency vehicle drivers.
The end result is that emergency vehicle drivers may actually be at far greater risk of causing serious automobile accidents and other injuries than those of us who are not operating emergency vehicles. If you don’t already get out of their way as law and custom dictate, this ought to be a new reason for you to do so.
Be Vigilant About Negligence
If a driver’s inattention leads to a vehicular accident that results in harm to others, that driver may be considered negligent. Those victims may be entitled to compensation. More often than not, distracted driving is a breach of duty on behalf of the driver to exercise adequate care towards other drivers. Victims might have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit if it can be proven that the other driver’s actions directly caused the accident and injury.
If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, no matter the kind of vehicle the distracted driver was driving, it is imperative that you meet with a personal injury attorney to learn about your potential legal options.