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Move Over

It's The Law

Remember the time you had a flat tire and tried to fix it on the shoulder of the interstate while cars whizzed by, just inches from you, at 75 miles an hour? Or maybe you just stopped to take a picture or switch drivers. It was scary, huh?

Those scenarios might help drivers empathize with law enforcement officers who have to stand along busy roadsides dozens of times a day. And whether or not you are sympathetic to their plight, know this: Move over. It’s the law.

“Every year, first responders are injured or killed while providing emergency services along America’s highways. The Move Over Law, which has been enacted in all 50 states, aims to make all roadside emergency and maintenance professionals safer,” says Maile Gray, director of Drive Smart Colorado. “Unfortunately, a national survey shows that 71 percent of Americans have never heard of Move Over laws.”

Colorado’s law, enacted in 2005, is intended to protect emergency response personnel, including law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency service responders, highway maintenance workers and tow truck operators, Gray says. It also applies to traffic stops and broken-down cars.

Most drivers already know to move to the right and stop if they see an emergency vehicle approaching, to allow them free passage, but the Move Over law also requires them to slow down and to move at least one lane away from the scene of an incident, if at all possible. 

Nationally, in 2015, 52 law enforcement officers died as a result of traffic-related incidents and of those, 11 were struck and killed outside of their vehicle, Gray says.

Last year, a Colorado state trooper was killed by a drunk driver while she was directing traffic around a car accident on I-25. That driver is now spending eight years in prison. 

In Colorado, drivers who do not abide by the law can expect a minimum fine of $169.50 plus surcharges and four points off their license.

Lt. Scott Schwall of the Colorado Springs Police Department’s Specialized Enforcement Division can’t comment on the fairness of the punishment, but says: “We, as part of the executive branch, are tasked with enforcing the laws – the state legislature decides how severe the offense is.” 

Slowing down for a roadside incident is only common sense, he says. 

“You’re only changing your travel time by 15 seconds, but you could be saving a life,” he adds. “Slowing down always makes (the situation) better.” 

For more information on the Move Over Law, contact   Drive Smart Colorado at 719-444-7534