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Updated: Dec 6, 2023

Every day across America, law enforcement, fire and rescue, emergency medical services and towing and recovery personnel risk their lives responding to traffic accidents, stalled vehicles, and other roadside incidents. Among the most pressing dangers they face is the risk of being struck by passing vehicles.

In 2022, 51 first responders tragically lost their lives as a result of being struck by vehicles. To date 2023, 33 police officers, firefighters, EMS clinicians, tow truck drivers, and safety service patrol operators have been killed after being hit by passing vehicles.

As a responsible driver, you can play a critical role in reducing these accidents to zero by following these guidelines:

Before Driving

  • Prioritize sleep. Ensure you are well rested as fatigue can slow your reaction time, decrease awareness and impair judgment.

  • Know before you go. Get an update on any accidents and roadside incidents, and plan your route to avoid them if possible.

  • Eliminate distractions. Finish eating, secure and store loose objects, and adjust the vehicle’s systems and controls to reduce distracted driving.

While Driving

  • Be vigilant. Keep an eye out for flashing lights, advanced warning signs and emergency messages on the road.

  • Obey the Move Over Law. When you encounter an emergency vehicle with flashing lights stopped on or next to the road, move out of the lane immediately adjacent to the vehicle to create a safety buffer for responders. If changing lanes is not possible due to traffic conditions or road design, slow down to a reasonable speed and be prepared to stop. These are the general requirements of the Move Over Law. The Move Over Law differs significantly from state to state in terms of when drivers are obligated to act and what action they are required to take. So, acquaint yourself with the laws of the states in which you travel. Non-compliance can result in fines, license suspension, jail time or a combination of these penalties.

  • Follow instructions. If directed by responders or traffic control devices, obey their signals and guidance. Proceed slowly to allow time to interpret the traffic control and react to it appropriately.

  • Keep your guard up. Watch for emergency personnel as you pass the scene, and exercise courtesy to pedestrians. Also, be attentive for incoming or departing emergency vehicles.

  • Avoid rubbernecking. Resist the urge to take your eyes off the road to gawk at the incident. This can create traffic congestion, cause you to miss seeing brake lights or road hazards and pose additional safety risks.

  • Maintain adequate space. Allow plenty of room around your vehicle to react to the actions of other drivers who may not be as focused on the road. This can help you avoid secondary accidents.

Remember, the primary purpose of the Move Over Law is to save lives. As a responsible driver, it is your duty to adhere to it diligently. When approaching an incident scene on or alongside the road, slow down, and if safe to do so, MOVE OVER—away from first responders and emergency personnel. Lead by example, and others will follow suit, collectively ensuring the safety of those who work tirelessly to protect us on the road.

Article provided by Lancer Insurance co.


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