Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Move Over or Slow Down for flashing lights on the side of the road

Please help keep traffic responders safe this week and every week

By Barbara LaBoe

We all know to pull over when we see a fire truck or ambulance with lights and sirens in traffic – it's almost automatic. But did you also know about the Move Over, Slow Down law for response vehicles on the side of a roadway?

If you're approaching emergency and other response vehicles with flashing lights on the shoulder, state law requires you to move over into the next lane – if possible to do so safely – or slow down as you pass. This helps keep the response workers safe. It also allows them to finish their work more quickly, which benefits everyone on the road. This summer the law was expanded to include highway construction/maintenance vehicles, utility vehicles and other vehicles providing roadside assistance – when they have lights flashing.

Remembering the Move Over, Slow Down law is important every day. This week, however, we're making a special point of highlighting it as we recognize National Traffic Incident Response Awareness Week. The week honors traffic responders' vital work and raises awareness about the dangers they face every day while clearing crashes and other incidents.
Please remember to Move Over or Slow Down when passing emergency responders
on roadways or shoulders – we need everyone's help to keep them safe.

According to national Traffic Incident Management statistics:
  • Traffic incidents are the leading cause of death for EMS/EMT responders.
  • 39,000 incident responders are potentially placed in harm's way every day.
  • 20,000 first responders are injured each year while responding to traffic incidents.
We want to keep all responders – and travelers – safe, but Traffic Incident Management is also about getting traffic moving again. It includes police and fire officers as well as transportation workers, tow truck drivers, utility workers and anyone else helping to clear an incident on or on the side of a roadway. By working and training together, responders can clear crashes more efficiently, saving everyone time and money.
Clearing major crashes takes a team of responders, including law enforcement, fire, transportation workers and others. Traffic Incident Management training allows the different groups to work together efficiently.

And it doesn't just affect the vehicles involved in a crash. Effective Traffic Incident Management benefits anyone on the roadway.

According to the Federal Highway Administration:
  • Traffic incidents account for up to one fourth of all congestion on roadways, due to rubbernecking and blocked lanes, and are the largest cause of unexpected traffic jams.
  • The average motorist loses almost a full workweek (36 hours) sitting in traffic due to traffic incidents.
  • Americans burn more than 2.8 billion gallons of gas every year stuck in incident-related traffic — that's almost 24 gallons of gas per driver.
  • Clearing crashes quickly reduces idling and emissions, which leads to cleaner air.
In Washington, our Incident Response Teams provided an estimated annual $87.8 million in economic benefits to travelers and businesses statewide, according to the 2017 Corridor Capacity Report. The benefits come from clearing scenes quickly to reduce the amount of time and fuel spent sitting in crash-related congestion and also by prevent secondary crashes and delays by quickly clearing initial incidents.
Our Incident Response Team crews respond to a number of calls to help keep traffic moving,
from flat tires to directing traffic around crash scenes.

So the next time you're passing responders working on the shoulder, please remember to Move Over or Slow Down. It's not only the law, it helps everyone get back on their way as quickly as possible.