AAA-The Auto Club Group recently announced the start of an ongoing campaign aimed at highlighting Minnesota’s Slow Down, Move Over law and reducing deaths and injuries among tow operators, first responders and roadside workers.

While all 50 states have slow down, move over laws for emergency responders, which includes tow trucks, fewer than 30 percent of Americans know about these laws, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

In Minnesota the Ted Foss Move Over Law was named in honor of the state patrol trooper who was killed while on the shoulder of I-90 in Winona in 2000.

The law states: "When traveling on a road with two or more lanes, drivers must keep one full lane away from stopped emergency vehicles with flashing lights activated – ambulance, fire, law enforcement, maintenance, construction vehicles and tow trucks. Reduce speed if unable to safely move over a lane."

Failing to take these actions endangers personnel who provide critical and life-saving services. Fines can exceed $100.

“Our roadside service providers will respond to over 30 million calls for help this year alone; delivering safety, security and peace of mind to our members. Yet their lives are on the line every time they answer the call,” said Mark Peterson, Minnesota spokesman for AAA-The Auto Club Group. “We’re asking for the public’s support to protect all of the first responders who come to the rescue of motorists. Slow down, move over as the lives of our highway heroes are on your shoulders.”

Across the United States, one tow operator is killed in the line of duty every other week, and the towing industry is 15 times deadlier than all other private industries combined, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

To protect roadside workers and improve highway safety, AAA offers these precautionary tips:

• Always remain alert – Avoid distractions and focus on the task of driving.

• Maintain a visual lead of everything going on 20 to 30 seconds ahead of you – This gives you time to see problems ahead and change lanes and adjust 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.

• When road conditions are slick, don’t make sudden lane changes which can cause an uncontrollable skid. Change lanes early and move over gradually.

If you are unable to move over, slow down to a safe speed taking into consideration that you are approaching a workspace where pedestrians are present. For information visit aaa.com.

- Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Web site