A series of tragic accidents involving tow truck drivers have brought renewed attention to the fact that far too many drivers seem to be unaware of Washington state’s “Move Over” law.
As of August, at least 15 tow truck operators and technicians have been killed this year, and others have suffered life-altering injuries while trying to help disabled motorists. While additional figures aren’t available for other emergency responders, roughly 24 are killed every year after being struck by vehicles while they’re working by the road.
Why aren’t people moving over?
Washington, like many other states, has a law that requires drivers to slow down and change lanes, when possible, to give people in work zones or emergency responders some space for safety.
That means drivers can get a $214 ticket for not exercising due caution around:
- Tow trucks with their red lights on
- Emergency vehicles, like ambulances, using sirens or lights
- Police vehicles with flashing, blinking or other emergency lights
- Construction vehicles, utility vehicles and other maintenance vehicles
- Any other vehicle that has its hazard lights on or is flashing warning lights
So, why aren’t people obeying the law? According to the data collected by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety:
- Roughly a quarter of drivers don’t even realize the Move Over law exists and it simply never occurs to them that they’re putting anybody in danger.
- Over 40% of drivers will ignore the law if they decide that they aren’t really putting anybody at risk, which indicates that many people simply can’t appreciate the danger from the other side.
- Roughly 15% know the law exists, but don’t realize that the ticket is so hefty — and they aren’t motivated by any other factor
Ultimately, road safety is a joint effort. You can do your part by making sure that you give vehicles and workers at the side of the road plenty of space.
Unfortunately, you can still end up in a wreck with someone who isn’t using common sense or blatantly ignores the Move Over law. If that happens, make sure you take the appropriate steps to protect your legal right to compensation for your losses.