COLUMBUS — On Saturday, Dec. 14 a driver that was reportedly distracted struck one of AAA’s roadside technicians while the technician was assisting a member on I-70 near West Jefferson, Ohio. The tow truck and the AAA member’s vehicle sustained extensive damage. Thankfully, everyone walked away from the incident with only minor injuries to the technician and driver responsible, but it serves as a stark reminder of the dangers of distracted driving and Ohio’s Slow Down, Move Over law.
AAA tow operators respond to more than 30 million calls for help each year, working on roadside shoulders that are frequently no wider than four feet. The towing industry is 15 times deadlier than all other private industries combined. An average of 23 tow operators are killed at the roadside every year. That means an average of one service provider is killed in the line of duty every other week.
“Our AAA emergency roadside technicians work around the clock to provide assistance to stranded AAA members,” said Dave McMullen, president and CEO of AAA Ohio Auto Club. “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.”
Slow Down, Move Over laws are in place in all 50 states, yet fewer than 30% of Americans even know about them. In Ohio, state law requires drivers approaching a stationary emergency vehicle, including tow trucks, to slow down and vacate the lane next to the stopped vehicle, if possible.
With a record number of travelers planning to drive to their destinations during the year-end holiday travel period, AAA urges drivers to:
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.
Do the right thing by slowing down and moving over whenever you see flashing lights.
Make sure your friends and family and any new teen driver know and understand the law.
AAA provides more than 60 million members with travel-, insurance-, financial- and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited online at AAA.com.
Kimberly Schwind is a senior public relations manager at AAA Ohio Auto Club.