Lori Weaver Hawkins
Manager, Public and Government Affairs
O: (859) 425-5827
C: (859) 397-8363
CHARLESTON, W. Va. — A new AAA survey of first responders―including police, fire and tow 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 motorists do not slow down or move over for those working along the roadside, despite the fact that West Virginia law requires them to do so.
“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 Lori Weaver Hawkins, public and government affairs manager, AAA Blue Grass. “AAA and our traffic safety partners supported the passage of the Move Over law here in West Virginia, but, clearly 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, motorists 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 safer 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 motorist 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 it is safe to do so. But first responders say that is not what they are experiencing.
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. That is not the case for the current West Virginia Slow Down, Move Over law, however, which references only emergency vehicles.
But Weaver Hawkins says the law is only part of the picture. “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,” she adds.
*AAA Survey of First Responders, Tow Truck Drivers and Roadside Workers across 13 states, including West Virginia, and the District of Columbia: Survey conducted via Survey Monkey from September 10-19, 2021, resulting 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, N.C., and has a margin of error of +/- .9%.
AAA provides automotive, travel, and insurance services to more than 62 million members nationwide and nearly two hundred thousand members in West Virginia. 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.