Nearly four times more roadside assistance providers (RAPs) were killed by passing vehicles than previously reported, according to a shocking new study. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s research paints a grim picture of the dangers faced by those who risk their lives to help stranded motorists.
123 RAPs (roadside assistance providers) were killed between 2015 and 2021, compared to the 34 previously reported. Speed, driver distraction, and impairment were major factors, not just poor visibility. Interstates posed the highest risk, with over half of fatalities occurring there. Drivers often left the road before impact, suggesting impairment or distraction.
Almost half of drivers weren’t tested for alcohol, leaving the true scope unknown.
The study calls for urgent action on several fronts:
Reinforce “Move Over” laws and educate drivers about yielding to anyone working on the roadside.
Explore protective measures like electronic warning signs to shield vulnerable workers.
Train RAPs to prioritize safety, including minimizing time spent on the traffic-facing side of vehicles.
“This isn’t just about statistics,” said Jake Nelson, AAA’s traffic safety director. “Let’s remember these are real people, and we all have a responsibility to move towards zero traffic deaths.”
The study highlights the need for a multi-pronged approach: stricter enforcement of “Move Over” laws, addressing distracted and impaired driving, and implementing protective measures for RAPs. Additionally, the research reinforces the importance of the Safe System Approach, which prioritizes safety in road design and user behavior.
This alarming report sheds light on a hidden crisis facing roadside workers. By taking action, we can honor their sacrifice and work towards a safer future for everyone on the road.