(EL PASO COUNTY) — In 2023, Colorado set a bleak record for the deadliest year on roads since 1981 with 745 traffic-related deaths, according to Colorado State Patrol (CSP).

On March 22, Governor Jared Polis signed into law the ‘Slow Down or Move Over’ bill, but it’s not to be confused with the one already in existence. This one will protect all drivers, in the hopes of also protecting emergency vehicles.

In his 30 years of towing, Daniel Landy, owner of Daniel’s Towing and Recovery, has seen the dangers of the roads firsthand.

“It’s almost like a combat zone on the interstate,” Landy said.

Around ten years ago, Landy said he was assisting with a tow on the side of the road. He said he had his lights on, cones out and safety vest on to make sure he was visible to other drivers.

Then, a car came around the corner.

“He was in a hurry or whatever. Could have been texting. But, he hit me. Broke my pelvis,” Landy stated.

For about a year afterwards, he was unable to walk. Now, fully healed, Landy said he doesn’t feel safe while on the job.

“I’m always looking… back,” he said. “…While I’m trying to work. And I feel rushed. I try to stay on the other side of the truck as much as possible, but when I’ve got to get to the other side it’s very unnerving because there’s very little room to work.”

According to AAA, there’s cause to feel this way.

“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, towing is one of the deadliest private industries in the entire country with a death rate 15 times more than that of every other private industry combined,” said Skyler McKinley, regional director of public affairs for AAA.

He added anyone who’s broken down knows how dangerous it is. This is why Polis signed the bill into law requiring drivers to slow down or move over for anyone on the shoulder.

“All 50 states have a slow down mover over law requiring that you slow down or move over when you encounter any first response vehicle at the roadside with its flashers on,” McKinley stated. “Now, in Colorado, we’ve got a much stronger law that will protect any vehicle in the breakdown lane with its lights flashing.”

Not only do lawmakers and officials say this will help protect people who have broken down, but McKinley suggested this could also help people like Landy and other first responders and emergency vehicles.

“One big reason drivers ignore move over laws is they don’t understand when they’re in effect and who they apply to. They’re too confusing. This now makes Colorado have one of the simplest, most straightforward laws, and I’m hoping that will reduce the frequency of these fatalities as they affect drivers like you and me, or AAA technicians and, of course, law enforcement,” McKinley said.

Because of the law’s newness, law enforcement will focus on education and making drivers aware if they fail to move over or slow down for a vehicle in the breakdown lane.

After that, AAA said it will be a typical traffic infraction, since the goal is not to get more people pulled over, but awareness and safety.