Middle Tennessee – The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) and AAA – The Auto Club Group are partnering with the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security and local emergency first responders to promote Crash Responder Safety Week and raise awareness of the dangers emergency responders face on the roadside and how critical it is that drivers follow move over laws.
An average of 24 emergency responders are struck and killed by vehicles while working at the roadside each year across the country – meaning someone in this line of work is killed, on average, every other week. It's not just emergency responders being killed on the side of the road. In 2019, 13 people were struck and killed while outside of a disabled vehicle in Tennessee.
According to TDOT, five TDOT vehicles are struck every month by passing motorists resulting in injuries or damages.
“It is extremely important that all drivers Work with Us by paying attention, moving over and slowing down for our HELP truck operators. Our HELP truck operators, law enforcement and first responders continue to get hit with some resulting in fatalities. If everyone would follow these simple suggestions, we can be sure your public servants can go home to their family each day. Please, Work with Us. Move Over. Slow Down. It’s the law,” said Jay Norris, Occupational Health and Safety Division Director.
“Deaths like these can be avoided if drivers slow down and move over to give our tow providers and emergency responders room to work safely,” said Craig Horsley, Tennessee Director of Regional Automotive Services, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “We can't stress enough how important it is to pay attention so you have time to change lanes when you see AAA, an emergency responder, or simply anybody along the side of the road. The men and women who work at the roadside in Tennessee make a living keeping the motoring public safe. One thing they should never have to worry about is a vehicle veering into their work area and putting them in danger.”
“Crash Responder Safety Week provides an excellent opportunity to educate and raise awareness to the motoring public about roadway safety during traffic incidents,” said Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Jeff Long. “At the same time, it gives us the opportunity to share our common goal for safe and effective clearance. Last year at least 25 first responders were killed or injured while working incidents on the roadway. So far in 2021, that number is at least 26.”
Startling new survey data from AAA – The Auto Club Group finds that:
- 19% of Tennessee drivers have experienced a crash or near miss with an emergency vehicle on the side of the road.
- 18% of drivers, aware of move over laws, do not know there is one in Tennessee
In Tennessee, drivers face a maximum fine of up to $500 and possibly up to 30 days in jail for failure to move over or slow down when approaching an emergency vehicle, tow truck, utility vehicle, or road maintenance vehicle with flashing lights on the side of the road.
A granite memorial marker in Smith County honors the TDOT men and women killed in the line of duty since 1948 – a total of 112. The marker dedication reads in part, “The citizens of Tennessee are indebted and forever grateful for their service.”