Snow still piled high from the historic blizzard is blocking sidewalks and narrowing roadways across the state, mounting special challenges for pedestrians, cyclists, drivers and emergency responders. AAA cautions all motorists to pay special attention to the state’s Move Over Law, which requires drivers to reduce their speed and move to an adjacent lane whenever they see the flashing lights of emergency vehicles at the roadside. The law applies to police, fire and EMT vehicles, as well as tow trucks and highway maintenance equipment.
The Slow Down, Move Over law took effect in Massachusetts in 2009, mirroring a trend toward passage in state legislatures across the country in response to increasing fatalities and serious injuries to first responders and others assisting vehicles at the roadside. “There continue to be far too many tragic stories of law enforcement officers, highway maintenance workers and tow truck operators injured or killed assisting motorists,” said Mary Maguire, director of public and government affairs at AAA Northeast. “The simple act of slowing down and moving over can prevent these senseless tragedies and make the roads safer for everyone,” she added.
On average in the United States, two emergency responders are struck daily while working at the roadside. These incidents cause property damage, injuries and in some cases fatalities. According to FBI statistics, law enforcement officers being struck and killed assisting others at the roadside is a major cause of police deaths in the U.S. Most of these preventable crashes can be averted by complying with the letter of the Move Over law.
With snowbanks at their highest level in years limiting drivers’ vantage points, and roads narrowed by the recent blizzard, AAA urges drivers to look twice for runners, walkers and cyclists in the roadway, and heed the move over statute. Safety advocates across the state urge care, vigilance, and compliance with the law in consideration of those working to keep our roadways safe.