German MPs call for tough penalties for gawpers who block emergency services

Politicians in Germany are calling for tough new penalties for motorists who stop to film accident scenes on their mobile phones.

German MPs have called for those who block the emergency services by trying to film to have their driving licenses suspended and their mobile phones confiscated.

“Gawpers who enjoy accident misery and block police and  rescue workers by filming the suffering of others, must be punished with a one-month driving ban,” Alexander Graf Lambsdorff of the opposition Free Democrat party (FDP) told Bild newspaper.

Drivers currently face fines for blocking emergency services and photographing the injured without their consent, as well as using mobile phones at the wheel. The German government is considering changes in the law to ban photographing the dead.

But government and opposition MPs argue the proposed changes don’t go far enough.

“Anyone who films accidents and is intoxicated by the suffering of their fellow human beings, lacks any decency and respect,” said Marc Henrichmann of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrat party (CDU)

“In such cases, driving bans or the confiscation of their mobiles as a signal of the rule of law should not be taboo.”

The call comes after a number of incidents in which police and rescue workers have accused onlookers of blocking them from reaching the scene of traffic accidents and slowing treatment of the injured.

In one incident that made national headlines, a senior police officer in Bavaria was hailed as a hero after he shamed drivers into stopping filming the aftermath of a motorway accident in which a lorry driver was killed.

Stefan Pfeiffer invited motorists who had stopped to film to get out of their cars if they wanted a close-up of the dead man.

“We have to make it clear that it’s not a game out there,” he later told journalists.

In another recent incident, police in northern Germany were forced to clear onlookers out of the way when they blocked emergency vehicles trying to reach a driver trapped inside an overturned lorry.

“These drivers don’t realise what they’re doing with their behaviour,” the local police chief said.

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