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AAA says tow truck drivers have one of the deadliest jobs in the US

  • / Updated:
  • Staff Report 

A recent report by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has identified tow truck drivers as being among the most hazardous professions in the United States. According to the report, the lack of compliance with the “Slow Down, Move Over” law is putting emergency responders, including tow truck workers, at risk, with an average of two of them getting struck and killed by drivers every month.

According to government data, tow truck drivers face a mortality rate of almost 43 deaths per 100,000 workers, compared to just three for all other industries. Despite all states having Move Over laws, the AAA report found that awareness and compliance among motorists is inconsistent, with 71% of Americans unaware of their state’s laws.

The Move Over law requires drivers to slow down or change lanes when emergency responders, such as police, EMS, fire, and tow trucks, are working on the roadside. However, not all states have laws mandating drivers to slow down or change lanes when approaching a broken-down vehicle. An analysis by the AAA Foundation revealed that 1,703 people were killed outside a disabled vehicle in the US between 2016 and 2020.

To address this issue, the AAA Foundation conducted two field studies on busy roads to assess the effectiveness of various safety measures to protect roadside workers. The results showed that 60% of tow truck workers, emergency responders, and road maintenance workers surveyed had experienced a close call while working on the roadside, with 15% having been hit by a passing vehicle.

One of the safety measures tested was the use of electronic vehicle-mounted variable message signs (VMS), which was found to be effective in encouraging drivers to change lanes and slow down. The odds of a vehicle moving over were 95% higher with the VMS activated. The use of cones, flares, and emergency flashing light patterns was also tested, and while it led to significant lane shifts by drivers, it was less effective in reducing speeds or increasing the distance between passing vehicles that did not change lanes.

The AAA Foundation is now promoting the adoption of these lifesaving measures to protect tow truck drivers and first responders. The Foundation is sharing its findings with traffic safety advocates and other impacted industries, while continuing to educate drivers on the importance of obeying Move Over laws. The results of the study show that using VMS, nighttime light patterns, cones, or flares can have a positive impact on the behavior of passing drivers and protect these essential roadside heroes.

Categories: New York StateNews