Roadside assistance providers fatally struck by vehicles at the roadside: Incidence and characteristics (AAA)

Traffic Safety Pulse News

Roadside assistance providers such as motor vehicle towing personnel, mobile mechanics, and safety service patrollers often work on or alongside highways to help motorists stranded due to vehicle breakdowns or crashes. This places them at risk of being struck by passing vehicles. Research is needed to understand the circumstances of crashes in which roadside assistance providers are struck by passing vehicles to inform and prioritize efforts to protect them. However, the data sources most commonly used for traffic safety research do not reliably identify crash victims as roadside assistance providers, which has hindered previous research efforts. Thus, this study used data from industry sources to identify roadside assistance providers who were struck and killed by vehicles while working, and then linked them to a national database of fatal crashes, to gain an understanding of the circumstances of these crashes and issue recommendations for efforts to protect roadside assistance providers.

Key finding included:

  • 89% occurred at locations with speed limits of 55 miles per hour or higher, almost all of which were on Interstates or other limited-access highways.
  • 84% occurred in crashes with no indication of precipitation nor slippery road conditions.
  • 63% occurred during darkness, of which nearly two-thirds were at locations without lighting.
  • 63% occurred in crashes in which the striking vehicle left the road before striking the roadside assistance provider, the provider’s vehicle, or the disabled vehicle.

The report includes many additional findings as well as recommendations for future research and practice to protect roadside assistance providers.

Access the report that examines crashes in which roadside assistance providers were struck and killed by vehicles, to inform efforts to protect them.