July 19, 2021 - The tragic death of a AAA tow truck driver in Ohio highlights the risks faced by emergency first responders here in West Virginia 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 Bob Kazmierczak, AAA Director. “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,” Kazmierczak 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 Kazmierczak. “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 move over and slow down 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 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,” added Kazmierczak. “In safety, split seconds count.”
West Virginia’s Move Over Law
West Virginia state law requires drivers approaching and traveling in the same direction as a stationary authorized emergency vehicle, including a tow truck, displaying flashing lights, to change to a non-adjacent lane if safe to do so, or to slow to no more than 15 mph on a non-divided highway or 25 mph on a divided highway.
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 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.