"Rubber-necking" drivers make first reponders' jobs more dangerous, new research shows

ATLANTA — It is a dangerous job, when your office is a busy interstate.

First responders: police, fire, emergency medical technitians and HERO units are at more risk now, according to new research, thanks to distracted drivers.

An Atlanta firefighter got hit at a scene on Interstate 85 in southwest Atlanta a couple of weeks ago.

He lost a leg and is still recovering.

New data from the National Safety Council found 71 percent of drivers admit to taking photos, video or texting at the scene of an accident.

Channel 2's Steve Gehlbach saw a little of it Friday morning on I-285 in DeKalb County, as HERO units and police shut down all but one lane southbound after a fatal crash.


Gehlbach talked to the commander of the HERO operators, who calls it “digital rubber-necking,” and says it is getting worse.

The data shows that a majority of the drivers who admit to having their phones out as they drive by, also posted something to social media.

“At times when we make traffic queue to make a safe environment for the other agencies to work in and the motorist has to slow down to get around, rather than drive and pay attention to what’s going on in front of them, they’re slowing down, driving, looking down and filming at the same time,” Jason Josey, manager and HERO commander said.

They also talked about the move over law when emergency workers or anyone else is working on the shoulder.

GDOT’s HERO units say not enough drivers pay attention and either get over a lane or slow down.

A main piece of advice for everyone: Put the phone down.