Roadside workers and stranded motorists in Maine often face high risks of roadside car accidents. Their close proximity to fast-moving traffic significantly shortens the reaction time for both themselves and passing drivers. Distracted or inattentive driving exacerbates the risk. While Maine's existing 'slow down, move over' law helps protect some roadside workers, a new law will expand it to all roadside workers and stranded motorists.
This enhancement broadens the existing 'slow down, move over' law, which previously applied only to first responders and emergency vehicles. AAA's alarming statistics highlight the urgency of this law. On average, 60 emergency responders, including tow truck operators, get fatally struck each year by vehicles in the US while performing roadside duties. Furthermore, nearly one person is killed daily while waiting beside their disabled vehicle.
Mike Nadeau, Director of the Towing and Recovery Association of Maine, emphasized the high risk faced by tow truck drivers, with one driver being killed every six days.
Officials stress the need for Maine's expanded 'slow down, move over' law
Maine Senator Joe Baldacci stressed the necessity of this legislation, given the daily risks encountered by police, first responders, and emergency roadside crews. Lieutenant Michael Johnston of the Maine State Police echoed these concerns, citing personal experiences of near-misses and emphasizing the danger of their work.
Pat Moody, Director of Public Affairs at AAA Northern New England, recounted a near-fatal incident where a pickup truck nearly hit a tow truck and its operator. He emphasized the need for driver awareness and responsibility, particularly when passing emergency situations at high speeds.
How a new alert system will help prevent roadside accidents
The University of Maine Volunteer Ambulance Corps has introduced a new HAAS alert system, donated by UComm Technologies, which informs drivers via navigation apps when an ambulance is responding nearby. This system instructs drivers to slow down and move over, enhancing roadside safety. John Kahle from UVAC highlighted the importance of this technology in increasing driver awareness and ensuring the safety of emergency responders.
Moody praised the new legislation and the HAAS alert system as steps in the right direction. He also acknowledged the synergy between this law and Maine's hands-free driving law established in 2019. Looking ahead, Moody suggested further legislation to limit the use of voice-activated devices while driving, aiming to reduce cognitive distractions.
Common causes of roadside accidents
Roadside accidents can occur due to a variety of causes, but driver negligence is often to blame. Common factors in these crashes include:
- Distracted driving
- Impaired driving
- Reckless driving (e.g., tailgating, weaving in and out of traffic)
- Failure to adjust for weather conditions
- Mechanical failures (e.g., brake failures, tire blowouts, engine problems)
- Inexperienced drivers
The annual Arrive Alive Creative Contest, sponsored by The Law Offices of Joe Bornstein, aims to educate young drivers about safe driving practices and deter some of the dangerous behaviors listed above. The contest is open to graduating high school seniors in Maine. Participants can submit creative projects, such as essays, poems, paintings, videos, songs, and more, that emphasize the dangers of impaired driving and distracted driving. Prizes include laptops for first-place winners and iPads for second and third-place winners.
What are my legal options if I'm hit in a roadside accident?
If you were injured in a roadside accident after getting hit by another driver, it's important that you speak to an experienced car accident lawyer who can pursue justice on your behalf. The Law Offices of Joe Bornstein is committed to holding negligent drivers accountable and securing maximum compensation for injured Mainers and their families. To find out how we can help you, contact us to schedule a free case evaluation.