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Slow down, move over to protect others on the roads

AAA urges all motorists to slow down and move over for emergency vehicles, tow service operators and road crews working alongside multi-lane roadways. To bring greater awareness to the law AAA has launched an ongoing Slow Down, Move Over campaign aimed at reducing deaths and injuries among tow operators, first responders and roadside workers.

“Our roadside service providers will respond to over 30 million calls for help this year alone; delivering safety, security and peace of mind to our members. Yet their lives are on the line every time they answer the call,” said Nick Jarmusz, director of public affairs for AAA. “We are asking for the public’s support to protect all of the first responders who come to the rescue of motorists. Slow down, move over as the lives of our highway heroes are on your shoulders.”

While all 50 states have slow down, move over laws for emergency responders, which includes tow trucks, fewer than 30% of Americans know about these laws, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). In Wisconsin, the law requires drivers to shift lanes or slow down in order to provide a “safety zone” for a squad car, ambulance, fire truck, tow truck, utility vehicle, or highway maintenance vehicle that is stopped on the side of a road with its warning lights flashing.

AAA, which is in the business of rescuing millions of stranded motorists across the country each year, says about 200 roadside workers and first responders -- one every six days -- loses their life at the roadside and hundreds more are injured while assisting motorists.

To protect roadside workers and improve highway safety, AAA offers these precautionary tips:

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

• Maintain a visual lead of everything going on 20 to 30 seconds ahead of you. This gives you time to see problems ahead and change lanes and adjust speed accordingly.

• Emergencies can occur anywhere on the road. When you see flashing lights, slow down and prepare well in advance to change lanes. Allow others to merge into your lane when necessary.

• Don’t follow semi-trucks or other large vehicles too closely. If a truck moves into a left-hand lane, don’t speed around the right side. They are changing lanes for a reason; be prepared to change lanes yourself.

• When road conditions are slick, don’t make sudden lane changes which can cause an uncontrollable skid. Change lanes early and move over gradually.

• If you are unable to move over, slow down to a safe speed taking into consideration that you are approaching a workspace where pedestrians are present.

For information on laws in other states, visit drivinglaws.