Know When To "Move Over"
Roadside assistance workers are true highway heroes. Day and night, in all kinds of weather, theseÂ roadside problem solvers are the face of AAA to millions of grateful members. Sadly, their job also is one of the most dangerous. Some are injured in the line of duty. Others never make it home
But many states have laws that help ensure the safety of roadside assistance personnel and other emergency responders. "Move Over" laws, as they have come to be known, require motorists to change lanes or slow down when approaching emergency vehicles such as police cars, fire trucks and ambulances, or roadside assistance vehicles such as tow trucks, stopped on the side of the road with their lights flashing. Move over laws have been adopted in 43 states, but only 29 states provide protection for drivers of tow trucks and recovery vehicles.
Although "Move Over" laws exist in most states, there is still little knowledge of them. In a national poll, 71 percent of Americans said they have not heard of them. Law wording varies from state to state, but here are some general answers to key questions to help keep you and roadside workers safe.
What should I do if I see an emergency vehicle stopped on the side of the road with lights flashing?
First, slow down so that you can assess the situation. If you're on a multi-lane highway and it's safe to do so, move over by changing lanes away from the emergency vehicle. Leave at least one vacant lane between you and the emergency vehicle to provide a safe zone for emergency vehicles or workers performing their jobs in the area.
What should I do if I'm not able to safely change lanes away from the emergency vehicle or I'm on a two-lane road?
If you are unable to safely move over by changing lanes, you should slow down to at least 20 mph below the posted speed limit and approach with caution.
If I cannot change lanes safely, should I stop my vehicle in the roadway?
No, you should slow down while maintaining a safe speed. Do not stop in the roadway or block the flow of traffic unless directed to do so by emergency personnel.
How can I avoid becoming involved in a crash when traffic slows?
Stay alert. The single most important thing you can do to protect yourself and others is to pay attention behind the wheel. By scanning the roadway for incidents that lie ahead of you and being aware of activities of vehicles around you, you will be able to anticipate problems and react safely.
Moving over or slowing down for emergency vehicles on the roadside is the safe thing to do in any state you drive, because it provides a needed safety cushion for those who help motorists and keeps them safe on the roadways. Doing so is not just the right thing to do—it's the law in most states.