The new year brings new awareness and support to educating drivers about the laws requiring them to slow down and move over. In 2022, at least 50 emergency responders were killed in roadside crashes.
At least 50 emergency responders were killed in crashes along roadsides while responding to emergencies in 2022, according to the Emergency Responder Safety Institute.
Cleveland veteran firefighter Johnny Tetrick was one of the people who lost their life last year.
“I know his daughters were his entire world. So, family, service was also his world. He loved serving people. He loved the job,” Cleveland Fire Chief Anthony Luke said about Tetrick.
Firefighters all over the country think about this danger constantly.
“A good majority of our line of duty deaths are related to some sort of traffic accident,” said Denver firefighter JD Chism.
Despite every state having a move-over or slow-down law, requiring drivers to take extra precautions when certain vehicles are stopped on the side of the road, deaths continue to happen.
The laws started in 1996 in South Carolina. States continue to expand them to make the roads safer for everyone from police officers to roadside workers.
The Governors Highway Safety Association is just one of several groups driving awareness around the laws.
“The challenge we have now is that people are not aware of them or not thinking of them,” pointed out Russ Martin, the senior director of policy and government relations.
Martin says there is not a lot of good data on these types of crashes or how effective the laws might be. However, he notes that it is something federal auto agencies are studying more in-depth at the request of Congress.
There was also money included in the 2022 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to help raise awareness about move-over and slow-down laws.
“Congress set up a new grant program available to states to implement move-over education enforcement and awareness programs," Martin said.
Martin also says that money could be invested in technology that can digitally alert drivers through their dashboard entertainment systems when they are approaching an emergency vehicle. It’s something some automakers are already installing in some newer model cars.
A handful of police and fire agencies also use the technology. A lab within the Department of Homeland Security tested one alert system and found it “exceeded” their expectations in giving drivers more time to avoid potential crashes.