New Law: Slow Down, Move Over for Emergency Personnel
DENVER (Oct. 14, 2020) - With a new law protecting roadside emergency personnel now in effect, AAA Colorado today announced that Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has proclaimed Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, "Slow Down, Move Over Awareness Day" in the State of Colorado.
AAA Colorado requested the proclamation to promote new protections, signed into law in April as part of House Bill 20-1145, that strengthen Colorado's existing "Slow Down, Move Over" law. They stipulate to what degree motorists need to slow down when passing a stationary emergency vehicle, tow vehicle, or public utility vehicle working at, near, or in the roadway with its lights flashing.
- If a driver is unable to move at least one lane away from the stationary vehicle, they must slow down to at least 25 miles per hour on roadways with a speed limit below 45 miles per hour.
- On roadways with speed limits 45 miles per hour or more, motorists must slow down to 20 miles per hour less than the speed limit.
Those that fail to slow down or move over have committed the crime of careless driving, a class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense that can result in up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $300. As part of Colorado's "Move Over for Cody Law," passed in response to the tragic 2016 death of Colorado State Trooper Cody Donahue at the roadside, the penalty increases to a class 1 misdemeanor if the driver's actions injure another person, and to a class 6 felony if the driver's actions kill another person.
AAA Colorado, the state's largest membership-based, not-for-profit organization, was proud to marshal legislative support for both the Move Over for Cody Law and this year's new protections.
"Whether they're tow truck drivers, law enforcement personnel, first responders, or road and utility crews, the folks who work at the roadside take on an incredible risk as to keep the rest of us safe," said Skyler McKinley, director of public affairs for AAA Colorado. "We have a responsibility to protect those who protect us, both on 'Slow Down, Move Over Awareness Day' and every other day. AAA applauds Gov. Polis for the proclamation, and for State Rep. McKean, Senate President Garcia, and Senate Minority Leader Holbert's leadership on this issue."
According to research from the Centers for Disease Control, motor vehicle towing is one of the most dangerous lines of work in the country – with a death rate more than 15 times that of every other private industry combined. In 2019 alone, 18 law enforcement officers, 14 tow truck operators, 3 mobile mechanics, and 9 firefighters and EMS personnel were killed at the roadside, according to research from the Emergency Responder Safety Institute.
These completely preventable deaths stem from a lack of awareness. While all 50 states have "Slow Down, Move Over" laws for emergency responders, including tow trucks, fewer than 30 percent of Americans are aware of these laws – per survey data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).
"Across the country, our roadside service providers will respond to more than 30 million calls for help this year alone," McKinley said. "We're asking for the public's help to protect every first responder and utility worker. Slow down and move over: Lives are on the line – and on our shoulders."
To protect roadside workers, AAA offers these precautionary tips:
- Always remain alert. Avoid distractions and focus on the task of driving. Take charge of your phone and sign the pledge to never drive distracted at AAA.com/StaySafe.
- Maintain a visual lead of everything going on 20 to 30 seconds ahead of you. This gives you time to see problems ahead and to change lanes and adjust speed accordingly.
- Emergencies can occur anywhere on the road. When you see flashing lights of any color, slow down and prepare well in advance to change lanes. Allow others to merge into your lane when necessary.
- Give yourself extra space when following semi-trucks or large vehicles. If a truck moves into a left-hand lane, don't speed around the right side. They are changing lanes for a reason. Be prepared to change lanes yourself.
- When road conditions are slick, don't make sudden lane changes that can cause an uncontrollable skid. Change lanes early and move over gradually.
- If you are unable to move over, slow down. Remember, lives are on the line.
About AAA – The Auto Club Group
AAA Colorado is a proud part of The Auto Club Group (ACG), the second-largest AAA club in North America with more than 14 million members across 14 U.S. states, the province of Quebec and two U.S. territories. ACG and its affiliates provide members with roadside assistance, insurance products, banking and financial services, travel offerings and more. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with more than 60 million members in the United States and Canada. AAA’s mission is to protect and advance freedom of mobility and improve traffic safety. For more information, get the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Learn more.