A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Recent roadside tragedy underscores the need for drivers to move over, slow down on Ky. roadways

The tragic death of a AAA tow truck driver in Ohio has highlighted the risks faced by emergency first responders in Kentucky and around the country.

More than 80 drivers participated in a procession in honor of 32-year old Glenn Ewing during his funeral services last week. The tow truck driver was killed July 4 while placing a disabled vehicle onto the back of a flatbed on the side of the road.

“When one of our colleagues is lost, we’re all affected,” said Jed Bowles, fleet manager, AAA Blue Grass. “He died while helping a driver on the side of the road―it can happen to any one of us.”

Drivers should move over and slow down when approaching emergency vehicles on state’s roadways (Photo from Wikipedia Commons)

Ewing’s death illustrates why Move Over laws are critical to safety. The best thing drivers can do to protect the safety of someone on the side of the road is slow down and move over into the next lane if they 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,” Bowles continued. “By doing so, you are also potentially saving someone’s life.”

Move Over laws exist in all 50 states. 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 Sergeant Donnell Gordon, Lexington Police Department. “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.”

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,” said Lori Weaver Hawkins, public and government affairs manager, AAA Blue Grass. “In safety, split seconds count.”

Kentucky’s Move Over law requires all drivers to slow down and move over when approaching an emergency vehicle at the side of the road. Drivers must move to a lane not adjacent to the emergency or public safety vehicle, if at all possible. Vehicles must still slow down if a lane change is not possible. All drivers are to use caution and watch for workers and/or emergency personnel, stay alert and minimize distractions. Emergency vehicles are considered to be those displaying yellow, red, red and white, red and blue, or blue lights. This includes police, fire and EMS, as well as tow trucks, construction vehicles and other public safety vehicles.

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 Blue Grass

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