National Traffic Incident Response week reminds drivers to be aware of first responders

Emergency vehicles seen on a DOT camera at Interstate 41 and Winchester (WBAY file)
Emergency vehicles seen on a DOT camera at Interstate 41 and Winchester (WBAY file)

APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) – Across the country, hundreds of first responders are hit, injured or killed each year responding to traffic incidents.

That’s why the Wisconsin Department of Transportation is reminding drivers that it’s currently National Traffic Incident Response Week.

The Appleton Fire Department doesn’t like what it sees from some drivers when on scene of an accident.

“See an accident that we’re up on the highway for and they’ll take out their cell phone to try to tape it while driving by watching us while they’re supposed to be watching the road,” said Appleton Fire Department’s Dave Reigles.

What Appleton Fire Department and the DOT would like to see is drivers slowing down and moving over and those involved clearing their cars from the road as safely as possible.

“Several times we’ve been struck out on the highway luckily and we’re grateful for it that no body has been injured to the point of having any type of permament injury,” said D&D 24 Towing President Scott Dontje.

D+D 24 Hour Towing worries that some drivers only slow down for emergency responders.

Wisconsin state law says that drivers must also shift lanes or slow down for maintenance and utility vehicles. That includes tow trucks.

“One or 2 cars that don’t follow the law they can be pretty scary out there for us to try to do our jobs in a professional matter,” said Dontje.

It may slow your commute, but those working on the side of the road say it’s worth it.

“People that are paying the price aren’t just the person that you hit but also the love ones so give them a break, slow down, 30 extra seconds isn’t going to make or break their day but it could really impact theirs in a negative way,” said Reigles.