PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Saturday, Oct. 16, is designated as National Move Over Day, so law enforcement and transportation officials got together Wednesday to review ways to keep Rhode Island’s roads and highways safe.
They also stressed the dangers of distracted driving and the importance of obeying the “Slow Down, Move Over” law, which requires all vehicles approaching a construction site or emergency scene with flashing lights to reduce speed and shift lanes if possible.
A recent study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Public Safety found that while all 50 states have a law like that in place, nearly 25% of drivers are not aware of it, according to Lloyd Albert, AAA Northeast’s senior vice president of public and government affairs.
The study also revealed about 42% of drivers who failed to comply with the law said their behavior was “somewhat dangerous” or “not dangerous.”
The law was enacted to protect first responders and road crews, along with the drivers themselves.
On average, 24 first responders die every year in roadside crashes, Albert said, while 14 tow truck operators have been killed nationwide so far this year.
Failing to follow the law and driving while distracted also puts bystanders at risk, according to Albert. Since 2015, more than 1,600 people have been hit and killed while standing outside disabled vehicles on the side of the road.
R.I. State Police Lt. John Gadrow said since the “move over” law was enacted in Rhode Island, police have pulled over more than 2,000 drivers for violating it. Of those drivers, roughly 1,300 were issued a summons and 800 were given warnings.
“In the past three years, we have lost 139 good people just because drivers couldn’t be bothered to slow down and move over,” said Peter Alviti, director of the R.I. Department of Transportation.
Alviti said first responders have enough to worry about when arriving at the scene of a crash.
“That’s asking enough of them, just being out there,” he said. “We shouldn’t also expect them to jump out of the way of passing vehicles.”
Watch the full conference call below: