Watch CBS News

Roadside workers are killed in crashes nearly 4 times more than reported, AAA study finds

Roadside workers are killed in crashes nearly 4 times more than reported, AAA study finds
Roadside workers are killed in crashes nearly 4 times more than reported, AAA study finds 00:27

(CBS DETROIT) - Roadside workers are struck and killed nearly four times more than what is actually reported, according to a new study released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. 

The study examined crashes that involved roadside workers, which include tow truck drivers, mobile mechanics, emergency roadside technicians and safety service patrols. 

 "This new research reveals that vehicle collisions with roadside workers are not always the result of poor visibility," said Adrienne Woodland, spokeswoman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. "More often than not, speed, driver distractions, and/or impairment are a factor."  

The research shows that 123 roadside workers were killed by vehicles passing by from 2015 to 2021.

This figure is larger than the 34 listed in national crash data because, according to AAA Foundation's research, state police often list the crash victims as "pedestrians" and not "roadside assistance workers."

Here are some of the key findings from the study regarding crashes that killed roadside workers: 

Speed limits

AAA reports that 89% of the crashes happened in areas with 55 mph or higher speed limits, and almost all were on interstates or limited-access highways.

"Interstates are particularly hazardous, as more than half of roadside provider deaths occurred there," Woodland said. "The study attributes that to drivers traveling at high speeds while not expecting to encounter pedestrians on freeways. This reinforces the importance that drivers stay focused on the task of driving and be prepared to slow down and move over when approaching workers on the roadside."

Weather conditions and time of day

The study found that 84% of the crashes happened in good weather conditions, with no precipitation or slippery road conditions.

In addition, the AAA Foundation says 63% of the crashes happened in the dark, and two-thirds were in locations without street lights.

Conditions of drivers

The AAA Foundation reports that 63% of the crashes that killed roadside workers happened after the at-fault vehicle was already off the road and on the shoulder before striking the worker.

Over one-third of the drivers in these crashes tested positive for alcohol, but nearly half of the drivers weren't tested.

AAA: Slow down, move over

Following the release of this report, the AAA Foundation is reminding drivers to slow down and move over for anyone working on the side of the road. 

In addition, the AAA Foundation urges training for roadside workers to work away from traffic and not stand on the traffic side of the incident whenever possible. 

The report also shows that slowing down and moving over isn't enough and addresses the issues of impaired driving and distractions.

"Let's remember this study is about real people, not statistics," said Jake Nelson, AAA's traffic safety and advocacy director. "It's a shared responsibility to solve this safety challenge. Roadside workers and all of us who drive by them have to take action to move towards zero traffic deaths."  

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.