17:00 PM

New Law Helps Protect All Drivers on the Roadside

Nearly 350 people are struck and killed outside a disabled vehicle each year

A law that goes into effect Aug. 1, will help protect stranded motorists on North Dakota's interstate and multi-lane highways.

The law expands on a current statute that requires motorists to move over a lane, or slow down to a safe speed if unable to move over, when passing an emergency or highway maintenance vehicle alongside a highway when emergency lights are activated. The law will now also include stranded motorists when a vehicle's emergency flashers are activated.

A 2022 AAA survey of North Dakota drivers found that while most drivers do move over a lane or slow down for disabled vehicles, not all do. About one in every 10 North Dakota drivers stated they "never", "rarely" or only "sometimes" do so.

AAA has long been an advocate for Move Over laws, requiring drivers to slow down and move over for emergency responders on the roadside, yet there continues to be an alarming number of fatalities. Nearly 350 people are struck and killed outside a disabled vehicle each year in the United States.

"For years, Slow Down, Move Over efforts have focused on emergency responders," said Gene LaDoucer, regional director of AAA-The Auto Club Group. "While it's critical we continue to protect those who come to the aid of motorists, it's also important to provide the same protection to motorists who get flat tires, break down, run out of gas, or otherwise find themselves in trouble at the roadside. It's simple, if you see flashing lights, move over a lane and proceed with caution."

To protect emergency responders, AAA and other traffic safety advocates have led the way in getting Move Over laws passed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. This year, AAA led efforts to see the laws expanded to include stranded motorists in several states. Currently, a total of 19 states have laws, or have legislation pending, to protect to all motorists.

AAA hopes to increase awareness of Move Over laws with its "Move Over for Me" campaign. The Auto Club Group has created advocacy messages featuring familiar roadside scenarios like getting a flat tire, engine trouble, or running out of gas. This campaign will appear on social media, at community events, in The Auto Club Group's AAA Living magazine, on service vehicles and in AAA retail facilities. As one tow truck driver is killed every other week while working on the roadside, the campaign will also utilize AAA's familiar service providers.

AAA offers tips to protect roadside workers and stranded motorists:

For Drivers

  • Remain alert. Avoid distractions and focus on driving.
  • Maintain visibility on everything going on 20 to 30 seconds ahead of you. This gives you time to see problems ahead and change lanes and speed accordingly.
  • Emergencies can occur anywhere on the road. When you see flashing lights, slow down and prepare well in advance to change lanes. Allow others to merge into your lane when necessary.
  • Don't follow semi-trucks or other large vehicles too closely. If a truck moves into a left-hand lane, don't speed around the right side. They are changing lanes for a reason; be prepared to change lanes yourself.
  • In slippery conditions don't make sudden lane changes, which can cause an uncontrollable skid. Change lanes early and move over gradually.
  • Be a good passenger. Help identify roadway issues and remind the driver to slow down and move over.

For Stranded Motorists

  • Pull as far over on the shoulder as safely possible to create more distance between your vehicle and passing traffic.
  • Turn your hazard lights on so other drivers are aware you are there.
  • If you are able to safely make it to the next exit or stopping point, do so.
  • Call for assistance via phone, website or the AAA Mobile app.
  • Remain with your vehicle as long as it's safe to do so.
  • If getting out of your vehicle, watch the oncoming traffic for a good time to exit, and remain alert and close to your vehicle. Avoid turning your back to traffic whenever possible.

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.