By Doug Pacey / ADOT Communications

It’s been a rough week for those who work on our roads. It could’ve been much worse.

In two separate incidents Tuesday, passenger cars struck and injured two ADOT workers and an Arizona Department of Public Safety trooper working on roadways. A tow truck operator was nearly hit in one of the crashes too. We’re grateful no one was killed or seriously injured in these crashes. But the outcomes could have been much worse.

On Tuesday, two ADOT workers were hit by a pickup truck in a work zone on US 191 in Chinle. The driver told law enforcement that he was distracted. Fortunately, both of the ADOT workers were released that afternoon from the hospital.

On Monday afternoon, on State Route 87 near Payson, a car crashed into a DPS cruiser parked on the shoulder of the highway and nearly hit a tow truck and a passenger car. All three vehicles were on the shoulder of the highway where the trooper and tow truck operator were responding to the stalled passenger car. The tow truck operator dove under his truck to avoid being hit, but the trooper sustained minor injuries.

While the driver of the vehicle on SR 87 told troopers that a medical issue caused him to black out, these incidents are examples of the dangers highway workers and first responders face every day when working to improve roadways or assisting Arizonans.

t’s also a reminder that we all need to pay attention to the road in front of us when we’re driving, especially when entering and traveling through work zones. And don’t forget to “Move Over” and give emergency response vehicles room to work on shoulders.

Arizona’s “Move Over” law requires motorists to move over one lane — or slow down if it is not safe to change lanes — when driving by any vehicle with flashing lights pulled to the side of a road or highway.Arizona’s “Move Over” law applies to all vehicles with flashing lights pulled over on any freeway, multilane highway or city road or street. It aims to protect everyone who uses our roads and highways and everyone who works on or next to them.

Prior to the adoption of the ‘Move Over’ law, in August 2008, an Arizona tow truck driver and the motorist he was assisting were killed on State Route 202, when a heavy-equipment truck veered into them. In addition, in 2006, two tow truck drivers lost their lives on Arizona roadways while performing their roadside assistance duties. This doesn’t account for the hundreds of near-misses experienced on roadways as a result of drivers neglecting to move over. 

Although the law requires drivers to move over for any vehicle, including stranded motorists and emergency roadside personnel that is displaying flashing lights alongside a freeway or highway, many motorists still don’t heed this rule. As a result, thousands of stranded motorists and the roadside personnel assisting them are being put in harm’s way every day.

For the safety and security of everyone on the road, please remember that when approaching a stationary vehicle displaying alternately flashing lights or warning lights:

  • Perform a lane change to a non-adjacent lane from the stationary vehicle if safe to do so when travelling on a four-lane highway with at least two lanes proceeding in the same direction as the stationary vehicle. 
  • If changing lanes is impossible or unsafe, reduce vehicle speed and proceed with caution, maintaining a safe speed for road conditions.