While 24% of U.S. motorists admit to taking photos or video during normal driving conditions, about 71% say they do so when they see an emergency vehicle on the side of the road, according to a new survey from the National Safety Council and the Emergency Responder Safety Institute.
It appears that drama on the nation's roadways has become a form of entertainment and dangerous distraction.
The findings indicate that 60% of drivers post the emergency photo or video to social media, and 66% send an email about the activity while they're operating a motor vehicle.
Rubbernecking is even more prevalent than photo taking. Some 80% of drivers said they slow down to get a good look when they see emergency teams responding to a fire or crash — even though it creates congestion and other safety hazards.
Timed to coincide with Distracted Driving Awareness Month, the survey explores behaviors of the driving public as it relates to the safety of first responders and the data points to several disturbing trends.
Nearly 20% of those surveyed said their own inattentive driving has probably put first responders at unnecessary risk. Even worse, 16% admit they ether have struck or almost struck a first responder or emergency vehicle stopped in or near the road.
Less than half said they are very confident they know the law in their state regarding how to react if they see an emergency vehicle parked on the side of the road with its lights flashing.
On the upside, 67% of those surveyed have heard of the "move over" laws, and 73% said they move over when they see an emergency vehicle stopped on the side of the road with its lights on.