AAA is underscoring the need for drivers to slow down and ‘move over,’ away from first responders and disabled motorists at the roadside at all hours, but especially as the days grow shorter. The latest statistics indicate that more than 75% of all roadside deaths occur after dark.
According to data* analyzed by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, almost 2,000 people were killed in roadside crashes over the five-year period from 2017-2021, and nearly 1,500 of those deaths occurred after dark.
“This is extremely troubling, especially with the darkest days of the year ahead,” says AAA spokesperson Jana Tidwell. “The Move Over law is intended to ensure that first responders working at the roadside can provide emergency services to those in need without risk to themselves or those they are trying to help. We are asking everyone to adjust their driving behaviors accordingly.”
In Delaware, nine people died in roadside crashes between 2017 and 2021 – 29 of them after dark.
Delaware’s ‘Move Over’ Law
Move Over laws exist in all 50 states.
Delaware’s Move Over Law Expanded:
Delaware’s Move Over Law was first enacted in 2007 to protect emergency workers on our roadways. These emergency workers include law enforcement officers, EMS personnel, ambulances, firefighters, fire police, tow truck operators, park rangers and Department of Transportation personnel. The law says that any driver approaching an authorized emergency vehicle that has its lights flashing and is stopped on a roadway having two or more lanes in the same direction will either:
• Safely “move over” into a lane that is not next to the emergency vehicle, or
• Reduce the vehicle’s speed to a “safe speed” while passing the emergency vehicle if changing lanes would be impossible or unsafe
• Violators of this law may be fined $25.00 plus court costs.
On June 30, Governor Carney signed the AAA-supported expansion of Delaware’s Move Over Law requiring drivers to change lanes or reduce their speed while approaching a stationary vehicle displaying warning signals, including vehicle hazard warning lights, road flares, traffic cones, cautions signs, or any non-vehicular warning signs.
“The danger starts the moment someone stops on the roadside,” said Tidwell. “This change to Delaware’s Move Over law helps to protect disabled motorists, along with our first responders, law enforcement officers, highway maintenance crew members and tow truck operators.”
Ultimately, this law will also serve to protect drivers who are stopped for traffic violations, have broken down on the road, or have been injured in a crash. Breakdowns can be dangerous for everyone involved if other drivers are not paying attention.
Those who do not abide by the law are subject to a fine of up to $150 for a first offense.
Safety Recommendations for Drivers
• Remain alert, avoid distractions and focus on the task of driving.
• Keep an eye out for situations where emergency vehicles, tow trucks, utility service vehicles or disabled vehicles are stopped on the side of the road.
• When you see these situations, slow down and if possible, move one lane over and away from people and vehicles stopped at the side of the road.
“The lives of our first responders and those they are trying to help is literally on your shoulders,” Tidwell adds. “Please, slow down, move over and take extra precautions after dark.”
*SOURCE: Data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). Analysis by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Data from years 2016-2020 are considered final; 2021 data may be revised at a later date.
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