Washington Officials: Deadly Accidents Involving Emergency Personnel, Tow Truck Drivers On The Rise

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Since December, two Washington tow truck technicians lost their lives, one suffered an injury that led to a leg amputation, and another received injuries to the lower part of his body while assisting a disabled motorist. To those whose work involves helping stranded motorists along the shoulders of our busy roads, these accidents are seemingly becoming more common. In order to help prevent deadly collisions, officials with the Washington State Patrol (WSP) and safety experts with the AAA are urging drivers to slow down. 

The last victim died September 22 while on Interstate 5. The 33-year-old tow truck driver was retrieving a disabled vehicle near Kalama when the rear trailer of a passing logging truck swung into him, pinning him against the tow truck. WSP officials said that speed was a factor in the accident.

Unfortunately, it’s not only two providers and emergency responders who are dying while on the side of the road. Between 2015 and 2019, over 1,600 people have been killed while standing outside of a disabled vehicle. At least 22 of those deadly accidents happened in Washington. 

Safety experts with the AAA Washington told reporters that similar accidents can be prevented if drivers simply follow the rules, slow down, and move over. 

By staying alert while behind the wheel, drivers have enough time to see an emergency vehicle ahead, slow down, and change lanes. Unfortunately, not all drivers are focused on the road ahead, causing accidents and injuring, sometimes fatally, an average of 24 emergency responders each year. 

Washington Drivers Remain Unaware Of Move Over Law, Putting Lives Of Emergency Personnel At Risk

The AAA, alongside other traffic safety advocates, helped all 50 states and the District of Columbia pass Move Over laws in order to help prevent the loss of emergency personnel lives. Recently, however, survey data compiled by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that nearly a quarter of drivers are unaware of the Move Over law. Of those, at least 15% claim they do not understand the potential consequences associated with violating the Move Over law. 

In addition, at least 42% of those who fail to comply with Move Over laws claimed they did not think their behavior was dangerous to roadside emergency workers. According to AAA, this might explain why drivers continue to ignore the risks associated with speeding and driving closely to those providing roadside assistance. 

For more on the dangers of breaking the Move Over law, follow this link.