Gov. Kevin Stitt on Tuesday is set to sign Senate Bill 89 — aimed at reducing roadside crashes and supported by AAA and the Traffic Incident Management System (TIMS) Coalition.

Oklahoma motorists will now follow the critical safety practice of moving to adjacent lanes as safely as possible and slowing down considerably when approaching all stationary vehicles displaying flashing lights. Motorists should get a head start in complying with a new law set to take effect Nov. 1, 2019.

Background

Motorists stranded on the roadside in Oklahoma and those, including wrecker services, assisting them will soon have a better chance of avoiding being hit by oncoming vehicles.

AAA Oklahoma praises Governor Stitt and the Oklahoma legislature for making SB 89 law. Effective Nov. 1, motorists approaching all stationary vehicles displaying flashing lights must move into a lane that is not adjacent to the stationary authorized emergency vehicle. If no additional lane exists, motorists must proceed with caution, reducing their speed to safely navigate traffic conditions.

In 2017, according to the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office, some 10,089 crashes in Oklahoma involved individuals on the side of the road.

“A previous version of the statute stipulated specific types of vehicles and colors of flashing lights to be avoided,” Leslie Gamble, AAA Oklahoma public and government affairs manager, said. “Yet, at speeds on our highways, it’s usually impossible for motorists to distinguish those nuances. This simplifies the law so that caution must be extended to anyone with flashing lights in a stationary vehicle on the roadside.”

Sen. Brent Howard and Rep. Charles Ortega authored the measure after learning of the issues from AAA and members of the Traffic Incident Management System (TIMS) Coalition.

“Our dedicated AAA Roadside Rescue team and other first responders risk their lives daily while assisting stranded motorists,” Gamble said. “This law protects all involved in roadside situations who are at high risk and need drivers’ full assistance in making all possible efforts to avoid impacted areas.”