Idaho’s Roadside Dangers
It's that time of year again; the holidays are just around the corner. With the holidays, daylight hours get shorter, which means more driving at night. Nighttime driving requires more attention to the roads and what's on the streets. When accidents happen day or night, emergency workers jeopardize their safety when working to clear accidents.
AAA, in a release, says nationwide, an average of two tow operators and first responders are killed each month while at the scene of a crash, disabled vehicle, or other roadway incidents.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research, the towing industry is 15 times deadlier than all other private industries combined, with an annual fatality rate of 43 deaths per 100,000 workers. For other private industries, the rate is 2.8 deaths per 100,000 workers.
All states have enacted "Move Over" laws requiring drivers to slow down when they approach a stationary emergency vehicle with flashing lights and, if possible, move over one lane to provide workers with enough space to do their job safely. But new research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety finds that nearly 23% of Americans do not know that such laws exist, and almost 30% of those who know about the law don't completely understand it.
"Idaho's Move Over law specifically protects police vehicles, emergency vehicles, tow trucks, and highway incident response vehicles," says AAA Idaho public affairs director Matthew Conde. "For many first responders and emergency workers, the roadside is their office. They're putting their lives at risk to improve safety for everyone. Drivers can return the favor by being extra careful."
In AAA's research, many Americans report doing the right thing when they approach an emergency vehicle, with nearly 93% saying they slow down and change lanes every time they can. However, drivers ages 16 to 18 are significantly less likely to take appropriate action (85%).
Drivers who do not always observe the Move Over law offered several reasons for their behavior, such as lack of space to change lanes, concerns that reducing speed might cause a crash (either by hitting the vehicle in front of them or being struck from behind), or a lack of time to react.
"It may not always be possible to move over, but the first point of emphasis is to slow down," Conde said. "If you're concerned about not having enough time to react, please increase your following distance to keep a little more space between yourself and the car in front of you."
Interestingly, of the drivers who slowed down and moved over whenever possible, 86% perceived violations of the Move Over law to be very dangerous. For those who didn't comply every time, 42% felt that a violation of the law was somewhat or not at all dangerous.