08
February
2023
|
17:00 PM
America/Chicago

AAA Study Finds Vehicle-Mounted Safety Signs Are Effective at Reducing Roadside Collisions

The odds of a vehicle moving over were 95% higher when the technology was present

AAA-The Auto Club Group continues its "Move Over for Me" campaign, by sharing a new study that examines the risk of being on the roadside and the effectiveness of various tools designed to alert approaching drivers.

AAA's Research – The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted two field studies on busy roads to determine the effectiveness of various countermeasures like vehicle-mounted variable message signs (VMS), cones, flares, and more. The Foundation determined that VMS was very effective.

With VMS activated, drivers changed lanes and slowed down more than when the VMS was not operating. The odds of a vehicle moving over were 95% higher when the VMS was used. Passenger vehicles were more responsive to the VMS than trucks or buses, although both were more likely to move over when VMS was active than when not.

Other Countermeasures have Merits

The Foundation examined cones, flares, and emergency flashing light patterns. Researchers found these led to significant lane shifts by drivers but were less effective at reducing speeds or increasing the distance to the passing vehicles that did not change lanes.

Recommendations

The results from these field studies suggest that using VMS, nighttime light patterns, cones, or flares can positively impact the behaviors of passing motorists under most circumstances. AAA strongly recommends service vehicles or fleets utilize these features, to protect these roadside heroes.

"AAA will be sharing this research with impacted industries and safety advocates in hopes that they will adopt these lifesaving countermeasures," said Meredith Mitts, public affairs specialist, AAA – The Auto Club Group. "At the same time, The Auto Club Group is working with Iowa traffic safety professionals to educate the general public about Iowa's existing 'Move Over' law which requires drivers to move over for everyone, and with Minnesota lawmakers to strengthen the existing MN law to include disabled vehicles."

Advocating for Stronger Laws and Education

Currently, all 50 states require drivers to move over for first responders and tow trucks. Yet Iowa is one of only nine states that has a law requiring drivers to move over for a disabled vehicle with its hazard lights on. AAA representatives are working with lawmakers in 15 additional states, including Minnesota, to introduce bills to extend protections to motorists in those states.

Passing the bills would help prevent a tragic trend. Nationwide, nearly 350 people are struck and killed outside a disabled vehicle each year. Iowa had 8 deaths between 2016 and 2020 and Minnesota had 17 deaths during the same period. The states with the highest fatalities during that timeframe were California (281), Texas (268) and Florida (112).

"The roadside is equally dangerous for a driver with a flat tire, or the person called in to change it," said Mitts. "While we're strong advocates for laws that protect tow truck drivers and first responders, AAA believes everyone should be afforded the same protection. This means expanding the law in Minnesota to help protect disabled vehicles and lead to driver behavior change," she continues. "As it is already law in Iowa, education is the next key piece to ensuring drivers make it a habit to move over anytime they see someone on the roadside. That is why we launched the 'Move Over for Me' educational campaign. That habit saves lives, plain and simple."

Examining the Dangers for Tow Truck Drivers and First Responders

Helping stranded motorists on the side of the road should not be one of America's most lethal jobs, but it is. On average, two emergency responders, including tow workers, are struck and killed every month by a driver who fails to obey the law by moving over to an adjacent lane and allowing the roadside rescuers the space to operate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Roadside crashes are notably deadly for tow workers. Government data shows that tow operators are killed at a rate of almost 43 deaths per 100,000 workers, compared to just three for all other industries.

As part of its research, the Foundation also surveyed tow workers, emergency responders, and road maintenance workers on their experiences with roadside jobs. Of those surveyed, 60% had experienced a near miss while working at the roadside, while an astonishing 15% had survived being hit by a passing vehicle.

"These heroes put their lives on the line every time they help someone on the roadside," said Mitts. "We ask that drivers minimize distractions and constantly pay attention to the road ahead of you. Doing so could save a life."

About AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

Established in 1947 by AAA, the Foundation for Traffic Safety is a nonprofit, publicly funded 501(c)(3) charitable research and educational organization. The AAA Foundation's mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by researching their causes and by educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce injuries when they do occur. This research informs the development of educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, and other road users.

About AAA - The Auto Club Group

The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America with more than 13 million members across 14 U.S. states, the province of Quebec and two U.S. territories. ACG and its affiliates provide members with roadside assistance, insurance products, banking and financial services, travel offerings and more. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with more than 62 million members in the United States and Canada. AAA's mission is to protect and advance freedom of mobility and improve traffic safety. For more information, get the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.