Roadside assistance is a dangerous job, data shows

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Photo: Missouri Department of Transportation

Washington — Roadside assistance providers are struck and killed by passing vehicles more often than national crash data suggests, according to the results of a recent study.

Researchers from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety used data from the Emergency Responder Safety Institute and the National Tow List on struck-by vehicle deaths involving tow truck drivers, law enforcement officers, emergency medical personnel and firefighters. That data was then matched to data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System – a database of all fatal crashes each year in the United States.

The researchers identified 123 roadside assistance providers who were fatally struck by vehicles between 2015 and 2021.

“This represented nearly four times as many as were identified using national crash data alone and slightly more than reported in a federal database of occupational fatalities,” the foundation says.

Other key findings:

  • 89% of the deaths happened at locations where the speed limit was 55 mph or higher.
  • 63% occurred during darkness, and nearly two-thirds of those deaths happened in locations without lighting.
  • 63% involved crashes in which the striking vehicle left the road before striking the roadside assistance provider, the provider’s vehicle or the disabled vehicle.

report detailing the study findings includes several recommendations, including increasing public awareness of “move over” laws, which are on the books in all 50 states.


McCraren Compliance can help you understand and comply with FMCSA, USDOT and ADOT and ensure your drivers and your vehicles operate safely and efficiently.

Call us Today at 888-758-4757 or email us at info@mccrarencompliance.com to schedule your free FMCSA Compliance Assessment.

Original article published by Safety+Health an NSC publication