Safe travels: Slow down, move over

Published 10:00 am Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Motorists traveling for the holidays should remember Mississippi has a statewide “Move Over” law.

The law requires drivers to change lanes, if safe to do so, when approaching tow trucks, law enforcement vehicles, utility company vehicles, and any other emergency vehicle with lights flashing. If drivers cannot change lanes safely, they must slow down as they pass the emergency vehicles.

An average of 24 emergency responders, including tow truck operators, are struck and killed by vehicles while working at the roadside each year, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. This means someone in this line of work is killed every other week on average in America.

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“At times, only a foot or two separates our emergency roadside heroes from the threat of oncoming traffic,” said AAA Spokesman Don Redman. “Every driver that approaches an emergency vehicle on the roadside is responsible for making sure that worker can do his or her job safely.”

New data from the AAA Foundation shows 23 percent of people surveyed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia were unaware of the Move Over law in the state where they live. Approximately 15 percent said they did not understand the potential consequences of violating the law — fines and possible injury or death.

It’s not just tow providers and other emergency responders being killed on the side of the road. Since 2015, more than 1,600 people have been struck and killed while outside of a disabled vehicle across the country. The reality is that drivers are increasingly distracted while driving. Previous research has found that drivers are up to four times as likely to crash if they are talking on a cell phone while driving and up to eight times as likely to be in a crash if texting.

The Foundation advises motorists to:

  • Remain alert, avoid distractions and focus on the task of driving.
  • Keep alert for any vehicle stopped on the side of the road.
  • Slow down and, if possible, move one lane over away from people and vehicles on the side of the road.