If you are a police officer, you know well the dangers of stopping on the side of the road. Even in daylight hours, it’s a dangerous proposition to be stopped on the side of a road or highway because drivers are not always paying full attention while behind the wheel. Since 1999, over 150 law enforcement officers have been killed after being struck by vehicles while they were on the side of the road. The number is higher when you add in non-law enforcement individuals such as emergency response teams and construction workers. Luckily, over 43 states have laws that require drivers “move over” to center lanes when passing stopped law enforcement or emergency vehicles. New York is one of those states and they have made recent changes to their move over law to increase the safety of those at risk.
The “Move Over” law was first introduced in New York on the 1st of January in 2011. At the time, the law instructed that motorists on multi-lane highways must slow down and move over for stopped emergency vehicles with red flashing lights. When it is safe to do so, they must give safe clearance to the approaching emergency vehicle such as police cars and ambulances. In case a motorist does not slow down and change lanes, they may be fined $150 and be assessed a violation carrying 3 points. Some of the exceptions to “moving over” include drivers on single lane roads where the only safety precaution that can be taken is to reduce speed and use necessary when passing emergency vehicles.
Expansions of the Move Over Law
The most recent expansion is not the first to this law since it was first implemented. Just one year after the initial launch in January 2012, there were some amendments made to it. In addition to slowing down and changing lanes for emergency vehicles, the amendment added that motorists were required to move over or slow down for other types of vehicles including tow trucks or snow plows on the site of the road. After the expansion of move over law, motorist will be required to move over (or slow down if they cannot change lanes) when approaching a vehicle on the shoulder or in the lane of travel displaying red, white, blue, or amber lights. The aim of the expansion was to reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities of construction, repairing workers or tow truck operator.
In 2016, the most recent amendments to the law include protection for volunteer firefighters, ambulance workers, and sanitation vehicles. Under the newest version of the move over law, drivers must slow down and move over a lane when approaching a vehicle that is displaying red, white, blue, amber, or green lights. These vehicles are usually always operated by volunteer firefighters or ambulance or garbage and recycling truck drivers. While common sense will guide most responsible drivers to move over or slow down when approaching any stopped vehicle on the side of the road, the continued expansion of the move over law defines that “common sense” and applies the necessary punishment for violators of the law.
A Safety Campaign Long in the Making
After the introduction of the law in 2011, over 77,000 tickets have been issued for violations of the move over law. In a recent five-day crack down initiative in November, 230 tickets were issued for violation of the move over law which is four times the norm for the same period. This crackdown was a campaign organized in response to multiple crashes just the month before where a state trooper was injured and tow truck operator and a construction equipment operator were both killed all in separate incidences. Apart from this, 5 DOT workers were killed in highway accidents in the previous year.
To raise awareness about the move over law, New York’s Traffic Safety and Transportation agency collaborated. Under the campaign, a public service announcement was created and played on cable. Educational flyers were provided at the service areas conversation with customers were also held.
The move over law requires the drivers to be cautious, reduce speed and move over safely. This must be performed when approaching a law enforcement, emergency response, maintenance or construction vehicle. With the ongoing national campaign, Move Over America, the road ways are sure to be a safer place for all personnel who are tasked with the dangerous task of responding to all kinds of incidents on the road sides.