State law requires drivers approaching a stationary emergency vehicle displaying flashing lights, including towing and recovery vehicles, traveling in the same direction, to vacate the lane closest if safe and possible to do so.
Emergency roadside assistance is at the core of AAA’s traffic safety mission. In fact, AAA Kansas projects assisting more than 1,900 stranded motorists during the busy upcoming Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Yet, the men and women who help motorists when they are in need also put their lives on the line every day.
AAA tow operators and roadside rescue technicians respond to more than 30 million calls for help each year – more than 104,000 in Kansas alone in 2018 – working on roadside shoulders that are frequently no wider than four feet. Nationally, an average of 23 tow operators are killed at the roadside every year, with one service provider on average being killed on the job at the roadside every other week. A contributing factor to this tragic statistic is that fewer than 30% of Americans even know about move over laws.
Given these startling statistics, AAA is recommitting its efforts to increase awareness of and support for Slow Down, Move Over laws. These laws, which are in place in all 50 states, are aimed at protecting emergency responders working along the roadside, requiring motorists to slow down and move over or change lanes, if possible, to give safe clearance.
“Emergency responders and roadside workers put themselves at risk every day to help people who are in need of emergency assistance or whose vehicles are broken down,” AAA Kansas spokesman Shawn Steward said. “To ensure safety, the best thing drivers can do is move over and away from or slow down significantly when near vehicles and people on the side of the road. Whether this is a police officer, ambulance, fire truck or someone is fixing a tire or working on a tow, slow down, move away and change lanes to create safe space around them. Their lives are on your shoulders.”
Kansas’ Slow Down, Move Over Law
State law requires drivers approaching a stationary emergency vehicle displaying flashing lights, including towing and recovery vehicles, traveling in the same direction, to vacate the lane closest if safe and possible to do so, or slow to a speed safe for road, weather, and traffic conditions. The law also applies to waste collection vehicles.
If motorists are cited for violating this statute, they will face a $75 fine plus, potentially, additional court costs.
Heed the need to ‘Slow Down, Move Over’
To protect emergency responders and roadside workers, AAA offers these precautionary tips:
- 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.
- When approaching an emergency vehicle with lights flashing on the side of a two-lane roadway, drivers should slow down to a speed that is safe and approach with caution unless otherwise directed by an emergency worker on the scene. Some states recommend slowing to a speed that is 10-20 mph less than the posted speed limit.
- On multi-lane roadways, slow down when you see the flashing lights of an emergency vehicle at the roadside and, if possible, move over into an adjacent lane. If you are unable to switch lanes, slow to a speed that is safe and reasonable. Some states recommend slowing to a speed that is 10-20 mph less than the posted speed limit.
“Roadside workers face dangers on the job daily and distinctly illustrates why Slow Down, Move Over laws are critical to safety,” said AAA Kansas’ Steward. “Those who brave these conditions to rescue AAA members are the heart of our company, but working along busy roads is dangerous work. The next time you see an emergency responder or service vehicle at the roadside, slow down and move over.”