It's traffic incident awareness week

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COLUMBIA — In order to make drivers more aware of simple rules of the road, the Federal Highway Administration has made Nov. 14 through 18 Traffic Incident Response Awareness week. 

This is the first year for Traffic Incident Response Awareness week. The week was designed to make drivers aware of what happens when cars fail to move or slow down when an emergency responder is on the side of the road. 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration the total number of police-reported traffic accidents from 2014 to 2015 increased by 3.8 percent. And traffic incident deaths have increased 7.2 percent--the largest percentage in more than 50 years.

"When you see those lights, move over," Carl McMeans said. McMeans is the former owner of Columbia's Carl's Towing and Recovery and has been a tow-truck driver for more than 40 years.

He explained, "it's hard to do a job when others aren't following the simple rules of the road."

"We risk our lives trying to help others," McMeans said.

Allene Aarlson is a semi-truck driver who said shoulder safety is not only important for the person on the side of the road but for passing drivers as well. 

"If you ever hit anybody, you can have regrets for the rest of your life," Aarlson said. "It's so sad when people get involved in those types of accidents and they're sorry for the rest of their life."

After being a semi-truck for more than 10 years, Aarlson advises that even if a driver is not able to completely get over in another lane, the next best solution is to simply slow down. 

In the past decade, MoDOT has had three emergency response employees killed while working with incidents on the road.