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First responders warn of "high-tech rubbernecking" - abc27 WHTM

First responders warn of "high-tech rubbernecking"

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) -

First responders are concerned about a disturbing new trend with drivers and smart phones. They point to a fatal accident last week on Interstate 81 that affected traffic for more than four hours.

Everyone has heard of drinking while driving, texting while driving, and overall distracted driving. Officials call this newest trend "videoing while rubbernecking," and they are pleading with drivers to stop.

Nathan Harig, assistant chief for administration at Cumberland Goodwill EMS, writes about one of his experiences:

"On April 9, emergency services from our area responded to what turned out to be a horrific crash claiming the lives of two people on Interstate 81 in South Middleton Township. In the midst of this tragedy, however, there were examples of overall good citizenry that need to be praised. There is also a need for a warning to those passersby that put the safety of first responders and other motorists at risk.

Upon arriving on the scene, crews encountered an individual performing CPR in an effort to save one of the victims. There were other bystanders I heard about who helped pull a patient away from dangerous wreckage. While those individuals didn't stick around long, they have my thanks for being good Samaritans.

Unfortunately, not everyone we encountered that afternoon did such praiseworthy things. Many of the first responders I interacted with were amazed at the number of drivers passing by in the southbound lane with camera phones in their hands. This distracted driving is a flagrant disregard for the safety of other motorists. Too many large tractor-trailers, small sedans and any other type of vehicle were stopping abruptly in the passing lane as they came across our accident scene, recording the devastation and disregarding the fact that first responders were actively working in the area.

While I can count on one hand the number of people who got out to help the victims of the crash before emergency personnel arrived, unfortunately there were many more who were filming it for Youtube or posting it to Facebook.

Each year, too many first responders are struck by traffic while operating at emergency scenes. Countless secondary accidents occur from rubber-necking.

Thrown into this mix now are electronic devices that preoccupy the attention of a driver more than the potentially deadly weapon they are supposed to be in control of.

While not everyone is there to render first aid immediately after a crash, other passer-bys can help first responders by slowing down in a controlled manner, keeping their eyes on the road, putting down their electronic devices, and moving over to allow room for crews to work. I'm thankful to see the spirit of helpfulness is still alive in those that rushed towards the victims that afternoon, but I'm worried about the countless other drivers with phones in hand instead of a steering wheel."

Read more here: http://www.centralpennparent.com/Really/April-2014/Wait-till-you-read-this/

State police spokesperson Adam Reed said drivers can be fined for slowing, stopping or parking on the road. They can also be cited under the state's texting while driving ban, but only if they text the picture from behind the wheel.

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