Editorial

Slow down, move over to help keep first responders safe

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Itís tempting to push the speed limit while traversing Nebraska on Interstate 80, which is on the stateís flattest, most boring terrain because is it was the easiest and cheapest place to build it.

No matter the road, however, shaving a few minutes off your trip isnít worth endangering the lives of you and your passengers, other drivers or first responders who have been called out to care for travelers who have encountered misfortune.

This time of year, especially, with snowy, ice-covered roads and reduced visibility, itís smart to allow extra time to get where you need to go -- or even reconsider whether the trip needs to be made at all.

Accidents happen, of course, and unfortunately, most of us need to be reminded from time to time to take precautions to keep from causing another accident as we pass the scene.

Nebraska and all other 49 states have laws requiring drivers to slow down and move over when passing tow trucks tending to a stalled car, officers making a traffic stop, first responders at an accident scene or Department of Transportation workers or vehicles on the job.

Yet, less than a third of us know about such laws, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The Move Over Law was updated in 2018 to include utility maintenance vehicles, highway maintenance vehicles or solid waste or recycling collection vehicle which is stopped and displaying flashing lights.

Traffic or weather conditions donít always allow motorists to move over, of course, and youíre then required to slow down and maintain a safe speed while passing.

If you donít, you could be fined up to $100, and subsequent offenses can result in fines of up to $500 and/or up to seven days in jail.

AAA-The Auto Club Group has a vested interest in roadside safety.

ďOur roadside service providers will respond to over 30 million calls for help this year alone; delivering safety, security and peace of mind to our members. Yet their lives are on the line every time they answer the call,Ē said Rose White, public affairs director for AAA-The Auto Club Group. ďWeíre asking for the publicís support to protect all of the first responders who come to the rescue of motorists. Slow down, move over as the lives of our highway heroes are on your shoulders.Ē

One tow operator is killed in the line of duty every other week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the towing industry is 15 times deadlier than all other private industries combines.

To protect roadside workers and improve highway safety, AAA offers these precautionary tips:

-- Always remain alert. Avoid distractions and focus on the task of driving.

-- Maintain a visual lead of everything going on 20 to 30 seconds ahead of you. This gives you time to see problems ahead and change lanes and adjust speed accordingly.

-- Emergencies can occur anywhere on the road. When you see flashing lights, slow down and prepare well in advance to change lanes. Allow others to merge into your lane when necessary.

-- Donít follow semi-trucks or other large vehicles too closely. If a truck moves into a left-hand lane, donít speed around the right side. They are changing lanes for a reason; be prepared to change lanes yourself.

-- When road conditions are slick, donít make sudden lane changes which can cause an uncontrollable skid. Change lanes early and move over gradually.

-- If you are unable to move over, slow down to a safe speed taking into consideration that you are approaching a workspace where pedestrians are present.

For information on laws in other states, visit drivinglaws.aaa.com.

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