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National Work Zone Awareness Week: AAA urges drivers to slow down, move over

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Mon, Apr 15th 2024 12:50 pm

By AAA of Western and Central New York

National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW) runs from April 15-19. AAA is supporting the American Traffic Safety Services Association in raising awareness of work zone safety across the country. This year’s theme is, “Work Zones are temporary. Actions behind the wheel can last forever.”

NWZAW highlights the deadly dangers of inattention at highway work areas. In 2022, 891 people died in work zones, including 94 highway workers, according to the most recent data available from www.workzonesafety.org. What many fail to recognize is most people killed in work zone crashes are motorists and their passengers. In 2022, 742 drivers and their passengers died in work zones, making it even more important for drivers to slow down and stay focused while approaching and passing through a roadway work zone.

In New York, the “Slow Down, Move Over” law recently expanded (on March 27) to include all disabled vehicles on the roadside in an effort to protect stranded motorists. From 2015-21 nationwide, 2,474 pedestrians were struck and killed by moving automobiles while outside a disabled vehicle, including 48 in New York.

“Being broken down on the side of the road is more than an inconvenience, it is extremely dangerous,” said Mark Mika, senior business adviser 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 motorists.”

NWZAW is held every April, which is also Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Often, drivers may be distracted when they fail to slow down and move over. AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety research has also found that 42% of drivers who do not comply with “Move Over” laws think that their behavior is not dangerous to people on the roadside.

AAA reminds drivers that the roadside is the workspace for tow operators, emergency first responders, construction workers, and others where only about 3 feet of space separate workers from moving vehicles.

To protect individuals on the roadside and to improve highway safety, AAA offers these precautionary tips:

√ Always remain alert. Avoid distractions and focus on the task of driving.

√ Watch for situations where emergency vehicles, tow trucks, utility service vehicles or disabled vehicles are stopped on the side of the road.

√ When approaching any disabled vehicle, or an emergency vehicle with lights flashing on the side of a two-lane roadway, drivers should slow down to a speed that is safe and approach with caution unless otherwise directed by an emergency worker on the scene.

√ On multi-lane roadways, slow down when you see the flashing lights of an emergency vehicle at the roadside and, if possible, move over into an adjacent lane. If you are unable to switch lanes, slow to a speed that is safe and reasonable. Some states recommend slowing to a speed that is 10-20 mph less than the posted speed limit.

The organizers of NWZAW are encouraging the public to share messages on social media on Thursday, April 18, with hashtags #NWZAW and #WorkZoneSafety between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. ET. ‚Äč

As upstate New York’s largest member services organization, AAA Western and Central New York provides more than 860,000 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.

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