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Not enough drivers moving over, slowing down for emergency responders

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Posted at 7:00 PM, Aug 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-31 19:19:56-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — AAA says nearly a quarter of drivers don’t know what to do when they see flashing lights on the side of the road or in their rear-view mirrors, and that’s had deadly consequences.

Data from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s 2021 survey found that among 2,889 people surveyed, 23% were unaware of the Move Over law in the state where they live. Among those who were aware, about 15% reported not understanding the potential consequences of violating the Move Over law.

Lt. Chris Van Brackel with Lexington Police says he sees the impact playing out nearly every day.

“Based on my experience, people tend to do what the person in front of them does,” said Van Brackel.

Even though it took effect in 2003, he says compliance with Kentucky’s move-over law is rare. They’re working to change that through education.

According to AAA, on average, 24 emergency responders- including tow providers are struck and killed by vehicles while working at the roadside each year. Since 2015, over 1,600 people have died while outside of a disabled vehicle.

The recent deaths of two AAA tow providers, killed while assisting motorists, highlight the danger.

Glenn Ewing, 32, was killed July 4th near Cincinnati, OH, while placing a disabled vehicle on the back of a flatbed on the side of the road. Only three weeks later, 30-year-old David Meyer was assisting a driver on the left-hand shoulder in Castle Rock, CO, when he was also struck and killed. Fourteen tow providers were killed while helping others at the roadside in 2021.

“The really regrettable and probably the most frustrating part- it’s preventable, it's something that we could have avoided,” said Jed Bowles, AAA Fleet Manager in Lexington.

There are Move Over laws in all 50 states, which is why Bowles says these incidents could have been prevented.

Lexington Police is citing people but feels that’s not enough to make real change.

Since 2017, they’ve cited 94 people- including 13 in 2022.

“It's tricky because normally it's one officer at a time, and when that officer is with the broken down car, collision, on a traffic stop, they can't stop what they're doing to enforce the law for someone who didn't move over,” said Van Brackel.

They’re hoping the more the public hears about the potential consequences, the more compliance they’ll see.

“That one person gets stopped and gets a ticket and says ‘oh that's the law’. Maybe they'll tell a friend, maybe they'll tell a family member. But how many more people are gonna see the story and learn,” said Van Brackel.

Lexington Fire Department says their fire and EMS vehicles have been involved in 18 accidents since August 2020.