An average of 24 emergency responders, including tow operators, are struck and killed by vehicles while working at the roadside each year – meaning someone in this line of work is killed, on average, every other week in America.
B-roll video of drivers not moving over or slowing down on highway
"Deaths like these can be avoided if drivers slow down and move over when approaching emergency vehicles with lights flashing,” said AAA Texas Spokesperson Daniel Armbruster. “At 65 miles per hour, your vehicle travels over 95 feet in one second and that one second could change everything. We ask all drivers to follow the law and give roadside rescuers the space they need to safely help stranded drivers.”
Recent data from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety finds not everyone understands the Move Over or Slow Down law that requires drivers to give roadside rescuers space or slow way down if they can’t move over.
AAA Foundation survey results show:
- Among drivers who report not complying with Move Over or Slow Down laws at all times, 42% thought the behavior was somewhat or not dangerous at all to roadside emergency workers. This shows drivers may not realize how risky it is for people who are working or stranded along freeways and roads close to moving traffic.
- Nearly a quarter of those surveyed (23%) are unaware of the Move Over or Slow Down law in their state. All states have such laws.
- And, among those who are aware of their state's Move Over or Slow Down law, about 15% report not understanding the potential consequences for violating the law.
Additionally, a survey conducted by AAA clubs in Texas and several other states across the country found:
- More than half of drivers associate Move Over or Slow Down laws with traditional emergency vehicles, specifically those with their red or blue lights on. But when construction zones and vehicles/motorists stranded on the shoulder are mentioned, many believe moving over is just a courtesy, not the law.
- While more than 90% believe Move Over or Slow Down laws require them to slow down and move over when encountering a fire truck, police car, or ambulance with its lights on, a much smaller percentage (65%) believe this is required when encountering a tow truck with its lights on.
It's not just tow providers and other first responders being killed at the roadside. Between 2016 and 2020, 1,703 people died while outside of a disabled vehicle, and 268 of those fatalities happened in Texas.
About Slow Down, Move Over
Since 2007, AAA has been instrumental in passing Move Over or Slow Down laws in all states, including advocating for those laws to cover tow operators and other emergency responders. Additionally, AAA clubs have participated in educational and advocacy initiatives by creating public service announcements and reaching out to state officials. But there is more work to be done. AAA is committed to raising awareness of Move Over or Slow Down laws and the dangers associated with working at the roadside.
These laws require motorists to move over one lane, if it is safe to do so, or slow down when approaching an incident where tow providers, police, firefighters or emergency medical service crews are stopped and working at the roadside.
To protect roadside workers, drivers with disabled vehicles, and others, AAA Texas offers these tips:
- Don’t Drive Intoxicated. Don’t Drive Intexticated.
- Stay alert, avoid distractions and focus on the task of driving.
- Slow down when approaching emergency vehicles with flashing lights stopped on the side of a two-lane roadway, unless otherwise directed by an emergency worker.
- 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 down to a speed that is safe and reasonable.’
- The Texas Move Over/Slow Down law requires that passing motorists move out of the lane closest to an emergency vehicle stopped on the roadway, or if they can’t safely move, reduce driving speeds to 20 miles below the posted limit.
Started in 1902 by automotive enthusiasts who wanted to chart a path for better roads in America and advocate for safe mobility, AAA has transformed into one of North America’s largest membership organizations. Today, AAA provides roadside assistance, travel, discounts, financial and insurance services to enhance the life journey of 63 million members across North America, including over 56 million in the United States. AAA Texas branch offices throughout the state can be found by visiting www.AAA.com. Follow AAA Texas on Twitter: @AAATexas and Facebook: www.facebook.com/AAATexas.