Traffic accidents are the number one cause of death for EMS responders and law enforcement officers. In order to promote safer motorist behavior, the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) recently joined the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) in declaring the week of Nov. 9-15, 2020, as National Traffic Incident Response Awareness Week (Responders Urge Motorists to Slow Down, Move Over: “I’m Somebody’s Child”).
“It’s a consistent battle that we fight on a daily basis,” said Wyatt Schubert, a motorist assistance operator at Springfield’s Traffic Management Center. “We need drivers to move over or slow down, but unfortunately, a significant number do not.”
According to statistics compiled by the American Automobile Association (AAA), more than 200 roadside workers are killed in the line of duty every year, and there were over 157,000 traffic accidents in Missouri in 2019. As part of MoDOT’s mission “to provide a world-class transportation system that is safe, innovative, reliable, and dedicated to a prosperous Missouri,” its emergency response personnel respond to an average of over 6,000 traffic incidents every month.
“Responders working crashes are always in a dangerous work environment,” MoDOT traffic incident manager Owen Hasson said. “As motorists, we can make their job safer by simply taking a foot off the accelerator, turning on a blinker, checking a mirror, and switching lanes.”
When approaching stationary MoDOT, law enforcement, or other emergency vehicles with flashing lights on the side of the highway, motorists are required by law to move over. According to a report by the National Safety Commission, 71% of Americans are not aware of their state’s Move Over law.
“When you see emergency vehicles and highway crews with warning lights either on the road or shoulder, slow down, and when you’re able to do so, move over,” Hasson said. “The lives you’re protecting are the ones who protect, rescue and assist you, and work on the roads you use every day.”
It is obviously important to obey all traffic laws, but especially those designed to protect the emergency personnel working to make the roads safe for you. Please be alert to roadside workers, and as the law mandates, move over!
If you have been injured in a traffic accident, please contact Shamberg, Johnson & Bergman for a free consultation. We will only receive a fee in the event of a successful resolution of your case.