Don’t Take Pics of Emergency Vehicles

May 20, 2019

Roadside emergencies with responders’ lights flashing and sirens roaring may be fascinating, but when drivers take pictures of the emergency, they create a dangerous situation and can become the next victim of a crash. Distracted driving lawyers in Philadelphia can help.

A recent survey by the National Safety Council and the Emergency Responder Safety Institute revealed that 71% 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 even making a routine traffic stop. Not only that, 60 percent then post the photos to social media and send an email about the situation – all while still trying to drive.  As a result, more than 1 in 10 of these drivers said they either have struck or nearly struck a first responder or emergency vehicle stopped on or near the road.

Driving while distracted is dangerous under normal conditions.  When an emergency situation exists and emergency responders are risking their own lives trying to help and save others, the chance of an accident increases. Motorists navigating around emergency vehicles, police, firemen, and ambulance drivers need to exercise extra care and not get distracted by taking and posting sensational photos.

According to the NSC survey, 89 percent of drivers say they believe distracted motorists are a major source of risk to first responders. In 2013, 37 people died in crashes involving ambulances, fire trucks or police cars, and 17,028 were injured. Between January and April 2019, 16 responders lost their lives and many others were injured in these types of crashes. If you or a loved one have been affected by such incidents, consider seeking advice from a truck accident attorney to understand your legal options.

If you or a loved one has been injured or someone has died in a distracted driving crash, you may be entitled to compensation for physical, emotional and financial damages. However, your case must be handled correctly and competently, or you may never collect the compensation you are entitled to.

Driving While Distracted is Dangerous

Distracted driving is any non-driving activity that has the potential to distract the driver from the primary task of driving and increases the risk of crashing. Distractions can be visual (taking eyes off the road), manual (taking hands off the wheel), or cognitive (taking mind off what you’re doing). Taking photos and posting them involves all three, so is particularly dangerous.  Texting alone takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of five seconds, which is equivalent to traveling the length of a football field at 55 mph – and doing it essentially blindfolded. (Source:

Even if you do not take photos, slowing down to get a better look when an emergency response vehicle is tending to a fire, crash or traffic stop is also a distraction.  In addition, this rubbernecking backs up traffic and creates other safety hazards.

Drivers Must be Responsible

There are legal requirements for what drivers must do when they see an emergency vehicle on the side of the road. In Pennsylvania, motorists are required to move over when they see an emergency vehicle stopped on the side of the road with its lights on. All drivers are prohibited from texting while driving. This is a primary law, which means that a police officer has the right to pull someone over and give them a ticket for texting while driving, without having to witness another moving violation.

In any driving situation, anyone who gets behind the wheel of a motor vehicle is required to drive responsibly and practice safe driving habits. When drivers devote their attention to anything other than driving safely on the road, they must be held responsible for any injuries they cause.

If you or a loved one was involved in a vehicle crash that was caused by someone else’s distracted driving, negligence, carelessness, or wrongdoing, you may be entitled to seek damages in a lawsuit that will hold the responsible party accountable.  It is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible as evidence can disappear quickly and insurance companies will attempt to get you to accept the lowest settlement possible. In addition, Pennsylvania has a statute of limitations of two years after the accident for filing a personal injury or property damage lawsuit.

What Does Compensation Cover?

In Pennsylvania, compensated costs and losses fall into two categories: economic damages and non-economic damages.

  1. Economic damages – expenses which can be objectively calculated, such as medical, therapy, and rehabilitation costs; costs of equipment such as wheelchairs; lost income; property damage; and funeral and burial costs if a death is involved.
  2. Non-economic damages – may include pain and suffering, the loss of enjoyment of life, and the loss of a marital relationship (consortium).

Contact Us for Help and Guidance

The seasoned and compassionate Pennsylvania distracted driving personal injury attorneys at Wapner Newman offer a free consultation to examine the facts of any vehicle crash that caused damages. Our unique legal approach helps ensure that no stone is left unturned as we investigate and document every detail relating to your claim and do everything possible to get you the settlement you deserve.