Distracted driving poses major threat to dispatched first responders

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LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY)-The holidays are here and distracted driving remains a constant threat to motorists everywhere.​

But what happens when the lives of first responders and the ones they’re trying to save are put in harm’s way because someone is texting and driving? ​

It happens all too often.

​Emergency responders face a lot of challenges on the road in the rush to save lives.​​

​”It’s basically controlled chaos,” said Adam Olivier, operations coordinator for Acadian Ambulance.​

​​”It’s very uncontrolled situations we have to watch for safety and our partner’s safety and our patients safety and it’s just difficult to keep everyone safe in these uncontrolled environments.”

​Their job can be emotionally tough and it can also and be hazardous to them.​

Unfortunately, first responders can become victims themselves.​

​”It happens on a daily basis, honestly multiple times a day,” Olivier said. “It’s the distracted driving incidents have skyrocketed lately with the advent of cell phones and touch screen radios and it’s easy to become distracted while driving.”​

​So what saves them?​

​”They fall back on their training, emergency vehicle operations course and sometimes we just have someone watching over us and the other motorists,” said Kerri LeBeouf, with Acadian Ambulance. ​

“We’re trained to always have a backup plan, look for a way out in every situation and the safest, a lot of it is because of our training and it’s also just sometimes luck,” LeBeouf said. ​

​Acadian Ambulance was one of seven companies in the country recently recognized as a recipient of the 2019 Smartdrive Trailblazer Award for their driving excellence.

These first responders admit even the best of training and safety practices can not protect them from potentially deadly accidents…something that could be avoided altogether.​

“Distracted driving is becoming the number one killer of drivers especially young people,” Olivier said. “So as much as you can, put the phone down and don’t text and drive.​” ​​​

Louisiana ranks the fourth most dangerous state for distracted driving, according to a new report.
The ranking was compiled using data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), a nationwide census providing the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, Congress and the American public yearly.

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