Slow Down, Move Over - Save a Life
Crash Responder Safety Week is Nov. 8-14.
DENVER (Nov. 8, 2021) - In the wake of recent roadside tragedies, AAA has joined with the Colorado Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration, the Colorado State Patrol, the National Highway Safety Administration, the Colorado State Committee on First Responder Safety, and Colorado Gov. Jared Polis to raise awareness for Crash Responder Safety Week, which runs Nov. 8 through Nov. 14.
This summer, two AAA providers were killed while assisting motorists. Glenn Ewing, 32, was killed July 4 near Cincinnati, Ohio, while placing a disabled vehicle on the back of a flatbed on the side of the road. He leaves behind a fiancée and two children. Only three weeks later, 30-year-old David Meyer was assisting a driver on the left-hand shoulder in Castle Rock, Colo., when he was also struck and killed.
"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 incredible risks to keep the rest of us safe," said Cassie Tanner, deputy director of public affairs for AAA Colorado. "To protect them, drivers have a responsibility to slow down and move over to give these people room to work safely."
Across the country, 46 emergency responders who were working on the roadway were struck and killed in 2020, including 17 law enforcement officers, 21 tow truck operators, one mobile mechanic, three DOT and safety service patrol operators, and four firefighters and EMS personnel. As of October 18 of this year, 51 first responders have been struck and killed - already up over last year's death toll with two months remaining in the year.
According to research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 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.
But it's not just tow providers and other emergency responders; regular motorists are at risk, too. Since 2015, over 1,600 people have been struck and killed while outside of a disabled vehicle.
Slow Down, Move Over
All 50 states and the District of Columbia have a Move Over law that requires drivers to change lanes and/or slow down when approaching stopped emergency vehicles.
• A driver must move at least one lane away from a stationary emergency vehicle with its lights flashing.
• If they can't, 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.
Startling new data from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety finds that among drivers who do not comply with Move Over laws at all times:
• 42% thought this behavior was somewhat or not dangerous at all to roadside emergency workers.
Additional AAA research found that:
• Nearly a quarter of those surveyed (23%) are unaware of the Move Over law in the state where they live, and
• among those who are aware of their state's Move Over laws, about 15% report not understanding the potential consequences for violating the Move Over law at all.
"Across the country, our roadside service providers will respond to more than 30 million calls for help this year alone," Tanner said. "In an average month, Colorado law enforcement, fire, EMS, and tow providers will respond to almost 8,000 traffic incidents. 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."
Protect Roadside Workers
To protect roadside workers, AAA offers these precautionary tips:
• Always remain alert. Avoid distractions and focus on the task of driving.
• 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, or a disabled vehicle in the break-down lane, 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.
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.