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Slow down, move over one lane for blinking lights

Recently, the Ohio State Highway Patrol urged motorists to keep everyone safe by moving over when there is a stationary public safety vehicle, emergency vehicle, road service or highway maintenance vehicle on the side of the road.

Then, last week more than a dozen towing companies from the Mahoning Valley, along with first responders, were on hand to bring awareness to the “Move Over and Slow Down” law.

The event saw tow trucks from several Valley companies as well as representation from Austintown police and fire departments, Weathersfield Fire Department and Lane LifeTrans park along the state Route 46 bridge with their flashing lights on.

The display was spurred by the unnecessary and tragic death of a Cincinnati-area tow truck operator, 32-year-old Glenn Ewing, killed after being struck by a vehicle while attempting to tow a disabled vehicle a week ago.

“The main thing is that we’re trying to raise awareness for the law,” Region 4 Director for the Towing and Recovery Association of Ohio Paul Ghrist said. He hopes the event and the death will give motorists a wakeup call.

Ghrist works for Jeswald Auto Truck Service in Austintown.

Austintown police Sgt. Valorie Delmont explained the law doesn’t apply only to first responders when on Ohio’s highways.

“Ohio’s Move Over and Slow Down law requires motorists to move to the next lane and slow down when passing any vehicle on the side of the road with flashing lights,” Delmont said.

From 2016 to 2020, OSHP cruisers were involved in 56 crashes that were “move over”-related, resulting in one death and 52 injuries. While alcohol or drugs were a factor in 25 percent of these crashes, and 52 percent involved wet, snow-covered or icy roads, that still leaves 23 percent in which drivers were simply not paying attention. We have to do better.

It is the law to move over when there is a stationary vehicle on the side of the highway. If not possible due to traffic, weather conditions or because there is no second lane, drivers must slow down. Every licensed Ohio driver had to pass a test for which they were taught as much. It isn’t a lack of knowledge. Rather, it is distraction and apathy leading to these incidents.

In the years studied, males received 59 percent of citations, and 35 percent took place between June and August. That means we are in the prime time for some very preventable incidents.

Work zones, too, should prompt motorists to slow down and maybe even move over.

Surely Mahoning Valley drivers care more for the safety of officers, road workers and fellow drivers than to flout the law.

We all must be more courteous and less distracted while driving, never forgetting we have our own safety, our families, and the safety of others on the road in our hands.

We know better. We just need to do better. Lives depend on it.

editorial@vindy.com

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