I am curious as to how many people really don’t even know about the Move Over Law and what it means. The law went into effect September 1, 2003. Just this week, a Denton, Texas police officer stopped to help a stranded motorist on I-35 and both were nearly hit. The incident is being used to remind drivers about the importance of the Texas “Move Over Law.” The officer has 4 children from a newborn to an 8 year old. He could easily have been killed. And all because someone doesn’t know about or doesn’t care to practice the Move Over Law. When pulled over, we are told that we should always try to pull over to the right shoulder. I still see police writing tickets on the driver’s side of the car. Why not the passenger side? It seems safer. And, if you hit them, I hear the ticket is much, much higher. Not to mention possible jail time. I wouldn’t do well in jail, would you? I absolutely hate bologna.

SB 193 requires drivers nearing stopped emergency vehicles with lights activated to either slow down or change lanes. In other words, the law states a driver must either vacate the lane closest to the stopped emergency vehicle if the road has multiple lanes traveling in the same direction or slow down 20 miles per hour below the speed limit. (If the speed limit is below 25 mph the driver must slow down to 5 mph.)

Emergency vehicles include police, emergency medical service and fire vehicles. As well as tow trucks which were added this last year.

A violation is punishable by a maximum fine of $300. If the violation results in property damage, the maximum fine increases to $600. If the violation results in bodily injury, the offense is enhanced to a Class B misdemeanor.

Although this law went into effect over 8-1/2 years ago, according to police, people aren’t doing that. In fact officers say already last year they handed out over 685 tickets to people. In 2010, 723 tickets were given out, the year before that 905 tickets.

Because of this, officers are teaming up. While one goes after traffic violators, a partner will monitor passing traffic. Kind of like a smack-down tag team. And, if you’re speeding, you could get another ticket on top of that. Like a double-whammy smack-down…cha-ching!

According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, 184 law enforcement officers were killed between 1997 and 2008 after being hit by a car or truck in the line of duty. The National Fire Protection Association said 26 firefighters were hit and killed by motorists while on the job between 1990 and 1999.

So, for crying out loud, slow down or change lanes for stopped emergency vehicles. And, it only makes sense to do the same if another car is broken down or pulled over on the shoulder. Both for your safety and for theirs. Have you ever been parked on the shoulder to change drivers, or to get something out of the trunk…or to dump a body??? It feels like those semi-trucks are going to suck you right under them. So, move it over!

Until next week…

Daun Thompson