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Slow down, move over: CAA reminds motorists to keep tow truck operators safe

CAA Niagara is urging motorists to make space for tow trucks providing service on the side of the road on Canada’s first national Slow Down Move Over Day
CAA Photo

The day promotes a safe working environment for tow truck operators across the country. CAA has long advocated for the protection of roadside assistance workers through Slow Down, Move Over legislation. CAA Clubs across Canada have designated May 14 as Slow Down Move Over day to bring attention to this important issue.

There are approximately 24 million motorists and 15,000 tow truck operators on the road annually in Canada. This leads to thousands of near misses experienced by emergency roadside operators annually and, across North America, nearly 100 tow truck drivers are killed every year after being struck by oncoming traffic while helping stranded motorists with flat tires, breakdowns and collisions. 

CAA Niagara recently conducted a ride-along to find out just how many potentially dangerous situations emergency roadside operators face daily. Of the three highway calls the driver responded to that morning, 80 per cent of vehicles did not change lanes or slow down while the operator was hooking up the car and had his amber lights flashing. To put it another way, in the 21 total minutes the operator spent outside his vehicle on the side of the highway, 241 vehicles, including several 18-wheelers sped past at highway speeds, mere feet from where the operator worked. 

“Our drivers are risking their lives daily to help keep our members safe,” said David Moreno, Associate Director of Emergency Road Side. “We all need to be more cautious of first responders, make sure to obey the law and slow down and move over.” 

Most provinces and territories have Slow Down Move Over legislation that mandates motorists change lanes and reduce speed to ensure the safety of emergency workers on the roadside, but as our ride-along revealed, many drivers still do not comply. 

CAA’s eight clubs across Canada will be launching public education campaigns and events today to draw attention to the safety risks tow truck operators face.

Founded in 1911 as the St. Catharines Automobile Club with just 16 members, CAA Niagara has grown to more than 135,000 members with five Niagara locations; St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, Welland, Thorold and Grimsby. A not-for-profit membership organization, CAA Niagara provides emergency road services, travel, insurance and member rewards.