Busy holiday weekend highlights need for new legislation
By AAA of Western and Central New York
This Memorial Day weekend, AAA expects nearly 35 million motorists to hit the road for a holiday trip of 50 miles or more. AAA expects to respond to 388,000 of those vehicles broken down on the roadside, putting roadside workers and vehicle occupants in grave danger.
“Being broken down by the side of the road is more than an inconvenience, it is extremely dangerous,” said Mark Mika, emergency road service operations manager for AAA Western and Central New York. “We refer to our technicians as roadside heroes because they rescue stranded motorists every day. They also have families to go home to. AAA is reminding all drivers to ‘Slow Down, Move Over’ to protect both workers and stranded motorists.”
It's not just tow providers and other emergency responders being killed on the roadside. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that an average year will see 566 people killed and more than 14,000 injured when dealing with a disabled vehicle at the roadside. There are numerous instances of motorists being struck and killed while trying to get their disabled vehicle back on the road, often when changing a flat tire.
Research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety finds that 42% of drivers who do not comply with “Move Over” laws think that their behavior is not dangerous to people on the roadside. Drivers may not realize how risky it is for workers or stranded motorists alongside moving traffic, but the numbers are startling.
AAA has been instrumental in getting “Move Over” laws passed in all states. These laws apply to police, firefighters, tow truck drivers, road workers and sanitation personnel. Two downstate elected officials are calling for stricter laws. S8258A/A1100A sponsored by Sen. Elijah Reichlin-Melnik and Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowksi would extend the law to civilians requiring that drivers slow well below the speed limit, and, if possible, change lanes to avoid disabled vehicles at the roadside.
Reichlin-Melnick said, “We must create safer roadways for all drivers, including those experiencing an emergency on the side of the highway. The 'Move Over' law has been effective at protecting law enforcement and emergency vehicles, and I urge my colleagues to join me in expanding that protection to prevent injuries and deaths of drivers in distress."
“Too often, motorists with disabled vehicles become the victims of crashes on our roadways,” Zebrowski said. “The current ‘Slow Down, Move Over’ law requiring drivers to slow down and move over for emergency and hazard vehicles is an important measure to protect our first responders and roadside workers, but it does not apply to disabled vehicles. This bill will change that, by requiring that drivers move over for all vehicles stopped on our roadways, decreasing the chance for a collision, and enhancing safety for drivers on the road with disabled vehicles. As we continue to see roadway fatalities increase, it is crucial that we pass this legislation to enhance safety.”
Other states including Connecticut and Pennsylvania have extended SDMO protections to include motorists with disabled vehicles by the roadside. AAA urges the New York State Legislature to pass into law this important life-saving legislation.
As upstate New York’s largest member services organization, AAA Western and Central New York provides more than 887,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1900, AAA has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Visit AAA at www.AAA.com.