Sr. Public Aff. Specialist, CT/DE/NJ/PA
O: (302) 299-4168
C: (610) 291-7312
MEDIA NOTE: Links to B-roll and interviews from July 11th tow truck driver procession is provided here:
PHILADELPHIA, PA (July 15, 2021) The tragic death of a AAA tow truck driver in Ohio highlights the risks faced by emergency first responders here in Pennsylvania and around the country.
More than 80 drivers participated in a procession in honor of 32-year old Glenn Ewing during his funeral services on July 11. The tow truck driver was killed on July 4th while placing a disabled vehicle on the back of a flatbed on the side of the road.
“When one of our colleagues is lost, we’re all affected,” said Robert Moorman, Manager Club Fleet Operations, AAA Mid-Atlantic. “He died while helping a driver on the side of the road – it can happen to any one of us.”
Ewing’s death illustrates why Move Over laws are critical to safety. The best thing drivers can do to keep someone on the side of the road safe is slow down, and move over into the next lane if you can do so safely.
“We can’t stress enough how important it is that drivers move over and change lanes when they see AAA or any other first responder working in and around traffic,” Moorman added. “By doing so you are also potentially saving someone’s life.”
Move Over laws exist in all 50 states. AAA and other traffic safety advocates have been instrumental in the passage of laws to better protect tow truck drivers and other first responders.
“Day and night, regardless of weather and traffic conditions, police officers, firefighters, emergency medical services personnel, tow operators, and highway maintenance workers perform various duties along our roadways, often placing themselves at significant risk of harm while serving others in need,” said Krys Johnson, PennDOT Community Relations Coordinator. “Please help us to keep our highways safe for everyone by slowing down and/or moving over when approaching an emergency response area.”
Pennsylvania State Police stress the importance of the Move Over Law. “Many drivers seem to think that moving over is just an optional courtesy when they see law enforcement or emergency vehicles pulled over on the side of the road,” State Police Trooper Jessica L. Tobin said. “Emergency personnel can only do so much to keep themselves safe when they pull over on the side of the road. The rest of the responsibility falls on other motorists.”
Distractions Behind the Wheel
As more people hit the roads after confinement and summer travel, the number of vehicles on the road is increasing and the risks associated with distractions increase. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the national traffic safety research arm of AAA, found that drivers are four times more likely to crash if they are talking on a cell phone while driving and eight times more likely to be in a crash if texting.
“Drivers talking on a phone or otherwise distracted may not readily see a vehicle on the side of the road in enough time to safely move over to the next lane,” said Jana L. Tidwell, Manager, AAA Mid-Atlantic Public and Government Affairs. “In safety, split seconds count.”
Pennsylvania’s Move Over Law
Pennsylvania’s enhanced “Move Over Law” went into effect on April 27, 2021. Governor Wolf signed Act 105 on October 29, 2020, which enhanced and renamed the “Steer Clear Law” that was enacted in 2001.
Pennsylvania’s new “Move Over Law:”
- Changed the name of the “Steer Clear Law” to the “Move Over Law”
- Provides that in an emergency response area along a road where there is an emergency response vehicle/operator (i.e. an EMS, police officer, tow truck driver, etc.), the motorist must move over into the left lane. If it is impossible for the motorist to move into the left lane, then the motorist is permitted to stay in the right lane, or in a lane adjacent to the emergency response area, but must reduce speed by 20 miles per hour below the posted speed limit.
- Allows a disabled vehicle, defined as, “a vehicle that is in a traffic lane or on the side of a traffic lane and the motorists is clearly marked with at least two of three markings (hazard lights, caution signs, or road flares),” to have the same protections as stated above in an emergency response situation, provided that the motorist with a disabled vehicle use two of the three following items: hazard lights, caution signs, or road flares.
- Imposes two points for failure to merge into the lane not next to the emergency response area.
- Sets fines at $500 for first-time offenders, $1,000 for a second offense, and $2,000 for a third or subsequent offense.
- Requires a 90-day license suspension for a third or subsequent offense. The license suspension will also apply to accidents that seriously harm or kill another person.
- Sets additional fines of up to $10,000 for violators who injure or kill an emergency service responder or an individual in or near a disabled vehicle.
- Doubles fines for several traffic violations when committed in an emergency response area when first responders are present.
Pennsylvania State Police Statistics
According to the Magisterial District Judge System (MDJS), there have been 13,235 citations issued in Pennsylvania since 2018 – 12,559 citations under the “Steer Clear Law” and 676 under the new “Move Over Law” that went into effect April 27, 2021. NOTE: Philadelphia County does not utilize the statewide Magisterial District Judge System (MDJS). Therefore, Philadelphia County is not included in the figures provided. For more information on the “Move Over” law, visit PennDOT.gov.
AAA and its traffic safety partners will strengthen advocacy and community awareness throughout the year, including ‘National Move Over Day” which happens every third Saturday in October.
AAA provides automotive, travel, and insurance services to more than 62 million members nationwide and more than three million members in Pennsylvania. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. AAA is a non-stock, membership corporation working on behalf of motorists, who can map a route, access a COVID travel restriction map, find local gas prices and electric vehicle charging stations, discover discounts, book a hotel, and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app (AAA.com/mobile) for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information on joining or renewing a Membership, visit www.AAA.com.