Letter to Editor
As you travel this busy holiday season, remember to Slow Down and Move Over for emergency responders, tow truck drivers, and other vehicles and workers on the roadside.
Slow Down, Move Over laws are designed to save the lives of our emergency response workers, by providing an extra barrier of safety for them as they work along the side of the road.
New Jersey law requires motor vehicle operators to reduce their speed and change lanes when approaching authorized vehicles displaying emergency lights. Such vehicles include police, fire and medical service vehicles, and also highway maintenance, tow trucks and official motorist aid vehicles displaying amber emergency lights. Where possible, drivers are required to move over to create an empty lane next to the emergency vehicle. When safely changing lanes is not possible, drivers must slow down below the posted speed limit prior to passing emergency vehicles. Drivers should also be prepared to stop, if necessary.
Since 2007, AAA has been an advocate for the passage of Slow Down, Move Over laws, working tirelessly across the country, to save lives. As of 2017, all 50 states now have the law on the books, including protection for tow truck operators.
Despite having the laws, we are still losing law enforcement officers, tow truck operators and others as they conduct business on the roadways. Motor vehicle-related incidents are the leading cause of work-related fatalities in the United States. Over 70 percent of Americans have not heard of move-over laws, according to a national poll by Mason Dixon Polling & Research, sponsored by the National Safety Commission.
AAA tow operators respond to more than 30 million calls for help each year, working on roadside shoulders that are frequently no wider than four feet. An average of 23 tow operators are killed at the roadside every year, with one service provider on average being killed on the job at the roadside every other week.
Emergency roadside assistance is at the heart of AAA’s traffic safety mission. Yet, the men and women who help AAA members when they are in need put their lives on the line every day. This is true of all tow truck drivers who come to the aid of a disabled motorist and of police officers who put their lives in jeopardy while protecting the public and trying to keep our roads safe.
As millions take to the roadways this upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, law enforcement officers, tow truck operators and roadside workers will be putting themselves at risk to keep the rest of us safe. AAA expects to rescue more than 368,000 motorists this Thanksgiving weekend.
To ensure the safety of everyone, motorists can obey the rules of the road this holiday season by avoiding distractions and observing posted speed limits. Remember whether there is a police officer, ambulance, fire truck or someone fixing a tire or towing a vehicle on the side of the road, slow down, move away and change lanes to create safe space around them. Their lives are on your shoulders.
Tracy E. Noble
Manager, Public and Government Affairs – New Jersey