There are a lot of people working to keep your teen driver safe on the roads, from police officers and tow truck drivers to EMS officials and firefighters, but what is your teen doing to help keep these workers safe?
A new National Safety Council survey finds that far too many drivers don’t know how to safely respond when approaching emergency vehicles on the road, and even admit to making dangerous choices around these vehicles.
As your teen learns to drive, it is crucial that you explain what to do when you see an emergency vehicle stopped on the side of the road and point out how simple driver mistakes can put the lives of emergency responders at risk. Here are some topics to talk address.
- Slow down and move over. Similar to stopping for ambulances and firetrucks, when an emergency vehicle is stopped and flashing its lights on the side of the road, your teen should safely reduce their speed and move over so they are not in the lane closest to the vehicle. According to the survey, more than 1 in 10 drivers said they either have struck or nearly struck a first responder or emergency vehicle stopped on or near the road. This is a very real risk, but slowing down and moving over can drastically reduce it.
- Avoid all distractions. According to the survey, a majority of drivers admit to taking photos or video of stopped emergency vehicles and even posting to social media about them, all while driving. These activities are dangerous enough behind the wheel, but doing them while around emergency vehicles and responders puts additional lives at risk. Your teen needs to know to avoid these distractions, as well as others like making calls or texting, at all times.
- Safety is the driver’s responsibility. Another shocking finding from the survey is that almost half of drivers think that possibly being struck by a vehicle is “just part of the risk” of being a first responder. This is particularly distressing because first responders work to protect others, whether they’re responding to a crash, stopping a speeding driver or rushing someone to a hospital. Talk to your teen about this issue and explain that the decisions they make behind the wheel can help protect these workers whenever they encounter them.
Every drive has the potential for danger, but it also has the potential for a lesson. When driving with your teen, point out stopped emergency vehicles when you see them and explain how dangerous these situations can become. Use these tips during your conversation and, above all, make it clear that your teen should always slow down and move over, for their own safety and the safety of everyone on the road.