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JayMac: put your phone down while driving by an accident scene

DISCLAIMER: the following is an opinion piece and does not necessarily reflect the views of KSL Newsradio or its ownership.

I’m becoming more and more convinced that we can’t handle the tech of driving while using a mobile phone at the same time.

CBS News reported that new research from the National Safety Council found 71% of drivers admitted to taking photos and texting while driving by emergency workers; that’s nearly triple the 24% who admitted to doing it under normal driving conditions.

Also, this news item: 40 first responders were killed on the side of the road last year, up 60% from 2017. And so far this year, 21 have died, including 10 police officers; 14 officers were hit and killed in all of 2018.

All 50 states have a “move over” law that requires drivers to give first responders room to work, but police say it’s about 50-50 if people actually do it.

When 71% of drivers admit to taking photos and texting at accident scenes, you know that number is actually much higher.

No distracted driving anymore

I haven’t texted while driving for about five years. It took two close calls for me to finally recognized that it’s just not worth it.  I could have caused a lot of harm or damage. Just being fearlessly honest.

I use hands-free for calls, but as far as picking up my cellphone and snapping a photo, no, I learned my lesson and don’t do that anymore.

Sixteen percent of drivers say they’ve struck or nearly struck an emergency vehicle or first responder on the side of the road, CBS News reported.

It’s bad enough drivers feel the need to slow for an accident and gawk. Now drivers are snapping photos and posting them to social media. What photo could possibly be worth striking or even killing a first responder? What photo needs to be posted to social media right at that moment?

If you feel the compelling need to snap photos of accident scenes, get a dash cam or pull over and take the photo. I hate to say it, but maybe it’s time for a law.

When the lights go on, the phone comes out

In Miami, Fire Capt. Steve Perez said as soon as firefighters flip on the lights and sirens, drivers behave differently.

“It’s very common to see somebody either on their phone or taking their phone out to try to videotape or get a snap of what’s going on,” said Perez.

There are technologies out there that I have fought against that can block or scramble a cellphone signal while a car is moving because the technology blocks everyone else’s phone as well.

But I’m really starting to get to the point, and I can’t believe this is coming out of my face, that this might be the only way. You know me: I don’t agree with taking away the rights of the majority because of the sins of the minority. But it seems now that the majority are committing the sins. We can’t handle the tech.

Robert Miles, director of Traffic and Safety for the Utah Department of Transportation, says, “Anything that takes your focus off of driving puts yourself and others at danger. If you’re passing a crash, there’s definitely no need to be taking pictures of it.” He added that people underestimate what it takes to drive safely.

You have a choice, so save a life by putting your phone down when you pass an accident scene.

Jay Mcfarland hosts the JayMac News Show, weekdays from 12:30 to 3 p.m. on KSL Newsradio, as well as the fictional podcast, Hosts of Eden. KSL Newsradio is part of Bonneville Media and based in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Don’t forget to review and subscribe to the JayMac News Show podcast on Apple Podcasts. Or follow Jay on Twitter and Instagram or on Facebook.