CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – A close call Wednesday morning, after a vehicle struck a State Police cruiser in the breakdown lane on I-91 North. And while no one was hurt, it’s a reminder that this type of incident could have a worse outcome.
“These types of crashes are a leading cause of fatalities for law enforcement, first responders, and tow drivers,” said Mark Schieldrop of AAA Northeast.
Massachusetts’ “Move Over” law is being stressed to drivers following the accident. 22News spoke to Schieldrop who explained, “It requires motorists to slow down, and preferably move over whenever an emergency vehicle or first responder is stopped on the side of the road.”
According to AAA, about 70% of Americans are unaware of Move-Over Laws despite it being passed in all 50 states. Failure to slow down and move over into the next lane causes the deaths of about 23 first responders and roadside crew workers each year and hundreds more are injured.
22News spoke with Interstate Towing in Chicopee who said local towing companies are seeing these close calls way too often.
“When you are working in that breakdown lane, and on that white line, people just don’t respect it,” said General Manager Stephen Gonneville. “They don’t move over and you feel unsafe.”
Gonneville told 22News they do everything they can to get the attention of on-coming vehicles; from warning signs to bright flashing lights. But he says at the end of the day, his crews need to stay cautious and drivers need to pay attention.
“Please respect the law… slow down and move over,” Gonneville said.
AAA Northeast says there are laws pending right now to expand the Move Over law to apply to all vehicles in the breakdown lane.