Motorists are being reminded of a law that aims to protect the lives of emergency responders stopped on a roadway, but many times is ignored.

Michigan’s Emergency Vehicle Caution Law went into effect in 2001 and requires motorists to move over at least one lane or two vehicle widths when they see stationary emergency vehicles or tow truck drivers pulled over with lights on. If moving over is not possible, then motorists must slow down and pass with caution.

Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson has released a video public service announcement to educate the public about the law and the importance of protecting lives. The newly released PSA features Johnson, Michigan State Police Director Kriste Kibbey Etue and several emergency responders. It opens with state police video footage of a tow truck driver narrowly escaping with his life as a car smashes into his vehicle.

Johnson tells WHMI she’s noticed while driving that it’s not teenagers but mostly older people who simply don’t know about the law. She says teens are taught during driver’s education courses but for others, it’s hard to know about a law that’s been around for 17 years. Johnson is hoping the 30-sec PSA might help save a life or quality of life for tow truck operators, M-DOT workers, rescue and emergency medical personnel, law enforcement, and others.

According to the National Traffic Safety Administration, the number one cause of law enforcement deaths is traffic incidents. Further, the Emergency Responder Safety Institute estimates that a tow truck operator is killed every six days in the United States while providing roadside or towing services. (JM)