Roadside car accidents make assisting stranded motorists on the side of the road one of the riskiest jobs in America. According to AAA, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that, on average, two emergency responders, including tow truck workers, are struck and killed each month due to drivers not obeying the law and shifting to a different lane to give roadside responders the space to work.
Statistics from the government indicate that tow operators are killed at an alarming rate of 43 deaths per 100,000 workers, compared to just three for all other occupations. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s President and Executive Director, Dr. David Yang, noted that roadside car accidents can be prevented if drivers reduce their speed and give roadside workers the necessary room to do their work safely. He then went on to emphasize the need for motorists to be aware and take action when encountering an emergency responder on the roadside.
Causes of Roadside Car Accidents
Although every state has Move Over regulations, drivers don’t always pay attention. These laws mandate that drivers should reduce their speed and/or switch lanes when they see first responders such as law enforcement, emergency medical services, firefighters, and tow truck operators on the side of the road.
Furthermore, some states have laws that require motorists to switch lanes or slow down when they come across a broken-down vehicle. Because the majority of highways have a speed limit of 65 mph or more, drivers may find it challenging to detect and respond to incident response personnel, including police officers, emergency responders, and tow truck drivers.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety performed two investigations on heavily trafficked roads to discover the efficacy of different safety measures for roadside personnel. In addition, they surveyed towing personnel, emergency responders, and road maintenance workers to ascertain their firsthand experiences with roadside labor. Out of those studied, an overwhelming 60% reported close calls with roadside car accidents, while a shocking 15% had endured being struck by an automobile.
Avoiding Roadside Car Accidents
The Foundation investigated different countermeasures and discovered that an electronic vehicle-mounted variable message sign (VMS) was highly successful. With the VMS activated, drivers not only shifted lanes more often but also decreased their speed. The likelihood of vehicles moving over was 95% greater when the VMS was deployed.
Cars were more responsive to the VMS than larger vehicles like trucks and buses, even if both were more prone to changing lanes when the VMS was active. Other countermeasures, such as cones, flares, and emergency flashing light patterns, were also found to be useful. Drivers shifted lanes more with these, however, they were not as effective at reducing speed or increasing the gap between the passing vehicles which did not change lanes.
The findings from the field studies imply that taking advantage of VMS, nocturnal light displays, markers, or flares has the potential to alter the actions of motorists while they are passing by in most cases. AAA firmly advocates that service vehicles or fleets should make use of these features, to secure these roadside workers.
Cliff Ruud, AAA’s managing director of automotive solutions, declared that AAA is taking advantage of this analysis to encourage the utilization of life-saving countermeasures to protect tow operators and first responders. Additionally, AAA is passing on these results to other industries and traffic safety proponents. At the same time, AAA will continue to educate drivers about the importance of adhering to move-over laws since they can save lives.
If you’ve been injured in a car crash, talk to an Orlando car accident attorney at the Martinez Manglardi personal injury law firm. Call 866-730-3508 for a free consultation. Convenient locations throughout Central Florida.