National Slow Down Move Over Day is Saturday (Oct. 16)

Twenty-four emergency responders, on average, including tow providers are struck and killed by vehicles while working at the roadside each year

VANCOUVER – As of September, of this year, at least 16 tow providers have died while performing roadside rescues in 2021. Twenty-four emergency responders, on average, including tow providers are struck and killed by vehicles while working at the roadside each year – this means someone in this line of work is killed, on average, every other week. 

Twenty-four emergency responders, on average, including tow providers are struck and killed by vehicles while working at the roadside each year

To protect these roadside heroes, drivers with disabled vehicles, and to improve highway safety, Target Zero reminds us to: 

  • Be observant, avoid distractions and focus on the task of driving, while on the roadways. 
  • Watch and listen for emergency vehicles, tow trucks, utility service vehicles or disabled vehicles stopped on the side of the road. 
  • When spotted, slow down and if safe, move one lane over to provide much needed space for those on the roadside. 

It’s the law

When drivers approach red flashing lights of first responders, tow trucks, municipal vehicles, utility vehicles and road maintenance crews, the law requires them to slow down to at least 10 miles per hour below the posted speed limit and, if safe to do so, move over one lane. Drivers who fail to follow the law face a $214 ticket that cannot be waived or reduced. 

Twenty-four emergency responders, on average, including tow providers are struck and killed by vehicles while working at the roadside each year

Startling new data from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety finds that:   

  • Nearly a quarter of those surveyed (23 percent) are unaware of the Move Over law in the state where they live. 
  • Among those who are aware of their state’s Move Over laws, about 15 percent report not understanding the potential consequences for violating the Move Over law at all. 
  • 42 percent of drivers who fail to comply with Move Over laws all the time thought their behavior was somewhat or not dangerous at all to roadside emergency workers. This demonstrates that drivers may not realize how risky it is for those who work close to moving traffic. 

Remember, it’s not just emergency responders and tow truck drivers, being killed on the side of interstates, freeways, and highways. AAA reported, from 2015 through 2019, more than 1,600 people have been struck and killed while outside of a disabled vehicle, 22 in Washington, 7 in Idaho.  

The reality is drivers are increasingly distracted while driving. WTSC’s observational study found that distractions like eating, tuning a radio, or attending to pets or children had increased significantly. 

Twenty-four emergency responders, on average, including tow providers are struck and killed by vehicles while working at the roadside each year

“Drivers can dangerously lose their focus on other activities that shift their focus and full engagement from driving, which the E-DUI law calls ‘dangerously distracted,’” Target Zero Manager Jessie Knudsen said. “Any type of distraction increases crash risk. Studies show that it can take nearly 30 seconds to regain your attention on the road after focusing on something else, even for just a few seconds.” 

Compound this with a disabled or emergency vehicle on the side of the roadway and we have a situation that could end traumatically.   

According to WTSC’s 2020 Distracted Driving Observation Survey, the statewide distracted driver rate increased from 6.8 percent in 2019 to 9.4 percent last year. Distracted driving behavior on city streets rose from one in every 10 drivers to nearly one in every five. Driver distraction on county roads doubled. 

Shelly Baldwin, Washington Traffic Safety Commission director said, “All of us can work together to encourage focused driving. Together we can make our roads safer. If you’re behind the wheel, put your phone away. If you’re a passenger, speak up politely to encourage the driver to remain focused. As a parent, set rules and be a good example. If we all do our part, we can prevent crashes that result from distracted driving.” 

Most Washingtonians follow the Laws, Target Zero officials ask that we work together to reach 100 percent, and save each other’s lives. 

For more visuals and information on the dangers facing tow truck drivers and other roadway workers, visit AAA.com/SlowDown. For more information from Target Zero on Distracted Driving, go to Distracted Driving – WA Drive to Zero 

Shareable PSA’S 

Earlier this year, AAA Washington (in partnership with Clark County Fire District 6 and Chappelle’s Towing, LLC.) released a Public Service Announcement (PSA) to remind the public of Washington’s Slow Down, Move Over law. TLC Towing was among the six private companies that helped create the video, along with WSDOT and WSP. 

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