* Media Note: Links to B-roll and interviews from Sunday’s tow truck driver procession can be found here:
Hamilton, NJ, July 16, 2021 - The tragic death of a AAA tow truck driver in Ohio highlights the risks faced by emergency first responders here in New Jersey and around the country.
More than 80 drivers participated in a procession in honor of 32-year old Glenn Ewing during his funeral services yesterday. 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 Christopher Conrad, Manager of AAA Club Fleet Operations. “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,” Conrad 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.
“First responders work tirelessly to make our roads safer for all of us, said Eric Heitmann, Director of the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety. “In return they ask to be afforded a safe place to work in order to perform their job so that they may return to their families each day. We encourage everyone to please slow down and move over for these workers, and help spread the word. It’s not just the law. It’s the right thing to do.”
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 or texting 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 Tracy Noble, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “In safety, split seconds count.”
New Jersey’s Slow Down, Move Over Law
New Jersey’s Move Over Law requires all drivers approaching stationary emergency vehicles, service trucks and other highway safety vehicles displaying red, blue and/or amber flashing lights must move over one lane or, if not safe to move over, then slow down below the posted speed limit. In New Jersey, the original law took effect in 2009 but was strengthened in 2019, to stiffen penalties and assess two motor vehicle points for repeat offenders convicted of a violation three or more times in 12 months. Since its inception over 28,000 citations have been issued for violations of New Jersey’s Move Over Law.