(LOS ANGELES, Nov. 16, 2007) — The Automobile Club of Southern California is reminding motorists that state law requires them to slow down and move one lane away if safe to do so when they are approaching emergency traffic scenes.
AAA and the Auto Club today announced a yearlong public education campaign aimed at reducing roadside deaths and injuries among roadside emergency workers and stranded motorists.
Each year, approximately 200 roadside workers are killed in crashes and as many as 800 deaths occur among motorists in highway work zones or in locations where motorists are being attended to, according to the National Traffic Incident Management Coalition. Countless more workers and vehicle occupants are injured.
According to the California Vehicle Code, when approaching a stationary emergency vehicle or tow truck on the freeway that has its emergency lights flashing, drivers must move out of the lane immediately adjacent to the emergency vehicle if it is safe to do so. If it is unsafe to change lanes when approaching the emergency vehicle, drivers must slow down and pass the vehicle cautiously.
"Southern California traffic can be frustrating, especially since up to half of traffic congestion is caused by incidents such as crashes or breakdowns," said Steve Finnegan, the Auto Club's government affairs manager. "But no matter how frustrated drivers are, they need to remember that emergency vehicles' flashing lights are a signal that they must slow down and steer clear of the emergency scene to reduce the chance of yet another tragic death or injury."
The "Slow Down, Move Over" campaign will include public service announcements and other outreach efforts by AAA-sponsored NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Driver David Ragan.
Ragan is the rookie driver of the Roush Fenway Racing No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion. His father, Ken Ragan, is a former tow truck driver for AAA. Because race car drivers must "slow down and move over" when an incident occurs on the track, and because of his family experience with the hazards of working along the roadside, Ragan is ideally suited to discuss this topic with race fans and other drivers.
"Racing on behalf of AAA's nearly 51 million members this year has meant serving as a role model and spokesman for safer driving wherever I go," Ragan said. "I also know what it is like to have a family member working late nights on a roadside protecting other people from danger. That's why I look forward to speaking up this year and next for the safety of law enforcement, firefighters, EMTs and tow truck drivers. I want to help them spread the 'slow down, move over' message so everyone gives them the margin of safety they need to do their job."