AAA is in the business of rescuing millions of stranded motorists across the country each year. At the heart of this effort are service technicians and tow truck operators who put their lives at risk each time they respond to a member’s call for help.
Sadly, every year about 23 roadside workers and first responders (one every two weeks) loses their life at the roadside and hundreds more are injured while tending to disabled vehicles. Despite being passed in all 50 states, 71 percent of Americans are unaware of Move Over laws that require drivers to reduce their speed and switch lanes to protect these workers (NHTSA).
Since 2007, AAA has been instrumental in passing Move Over laws in all states, including advocating for those laws to cover tow truck drivers and first responders. Additionally, AAA clubs have participated in educational and advocacy initiatives, creating public service announcements and reaching out to state legislative officials.
But, there is more work to be done. AAA is committed to raising awareness of the Move Over law and the dangers associated with working at the roadside.
These laws require motorists to move over one lane or slow down when approaching an incident where tow operators, police, firefighters or emergency medical service crews are working at the roadside. Many states have also expanded their laws to cover other vehicles, such as utility and municipal (e.g. sanitation vehicles) fleets, as well as any disabled vehicle on the side of the road.
To protect roadside workers and improve highway safety, AAA offers these precautionary tips:
- Always remain alert. Avoid distractions and focus on the task of driving.
- Watch for situations where emergency vehicles, tow trucks, utility service vehicles or disabled vehicles are stopped on the side of the road.
- When approaching an emergency vehicle with lights flashing on the side of a two-lane roadway, drivers should slow down to a speed that is safe and approach with caution unless otherwise directed by an emergency worker on the scene. Some states recommend slowing to a speed that is 10-20 mph less than the posted speed limit.
- On multi-lane roadways, slow down when you see the flashing lights of an emergency vehicle at the roadside and, if possible, move over into an adjacent lane. If you are unable to switch lanes, slow to a speed that is safe and reasonable. Some states recommend slowing to a speed that is 10-20 mph less than the posted speed limit.