Public Relations Manager, VA
C: (804) 543-7190
Senior Specialist, Public and Government Affairs, VA
C: (804) 921-6198
RICHMOND, VA (October 14, 2021) – A new AAA survey of first responders including police, fire and tow truck drivers, sheds an alarming light on dangerous driving behaviors that have resulted in hundreds of deaths at the roadside.
More than 90% of first responders polled* said they have had at least one near miss incident or felt their life threatened - with more than 30% saying it happens ‘routinely’ - because drivers do not slow down or move over for those working along the roadside, despite the fact that Virginia law requires them to do so if it is safe.
“An average of 24 first responders are killed every year while working along the roadside – that’s a tragic loss of life every other week,” says Martha Meade, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “AAA and our traffic safety partners were instrumental in having Virginia’s Move Over law expanded to include protection for tow truck drivers and Virginia highway safety workers who display amber colored flashing lights. There is still work to be done to ensure the safety of anyone disabled at the roadside and the first responders who come to their aid.”
That work, includes a new PSA being launched by AAA this week ahead of National Slow Down Move Over Day (Saturday, October 16th.) The PSA features first responders who are making an impassioned plea to motorists to give them room on the side of the road to do their jobs safely.
The AAA First Responders poll* found:
- Almost 70% percent of first responders say that, in their experience, drivers do NOT slow down and move over for those working along the side of the road
- 60% of first responders say they do NOT feel more safe since the Move Over law was put in place
- More than 90% say that they personally have been involved in a near miss incident or had their life threatened because a driver failed to move over –
- With more than 30% saying it happens ‘ROUTINELY’
The findings of the first responders’ poll are in sharp contrast to an earlier AAA poll of drivers - 90% of whom said that they do slow down and move over a lane whenever safe to do so. But first responders say that is not what they are experiencing.
“When there are life-threatening emergencies along the road, first responders come to the rescue” says Henrico Fire Battalion Chief Doug Reynolds. “We need drivers to help make sure that we are safe while working to save lives. When you see those flashing lights, slow down and safely move over a lane to give them that safety cushion of space to focus on the emergency at hand.”
Already this year, two AAA tow drivers have been killed while assisting motorists at the roadside - but it’s not just first responders who are at risk. Since 2015, over 1,600 people have been struck and killed while outside of a disabled vehicle.
Some states have extended Move Over protections to include disabled motorists and everyone at the roadside.
“The goal is not just to make motorists aware of the law. The goal is to change driver behavior and put an end to these senseless tragedies,” Meade adds.
*AAA Survey of First Responders, Tow Truck Drivers and Roadside Workers across 13 states, including Virginia, and the District of Columbia: Survey conducted via Survey Monkey from September 10-19, 2021 resulted in 1,726 respondents.
**AAA Poll of Drivers across 13 states and the District of Columbia: AAA surveyed 11,132 drivers between Aug 18-20, 2021. The poll was conducted by Public Policy Polling of Raleigh, NC and has a margin of error of +/- .9%.