Message to Drivers: Move Over. It’s the Law.
Every day on our roadways, law enforcement put their lives at risk to protect the public—especially out on the road. For the second year in a row, traffic-related incidents are the leading cause of death for on-duty law enforcement officers. In just the first half of 2014, there were 26 law enforcement officers killed in traffic-related incidents in the line of duty—a 37-percent increase over the same period last year. The average age of the fallen officers was 42, with an average of 13 years of service and two children each, on average.
From 2003-2012, of the 1,540 officers killed in the line of duty, almost half (44%) of those were killed in traffic-related incidents. In an effort to protect those who protect us, every state has “Move Over” laws, requiring drivers to move over and/or slow down when approaching stopped emergency vehicles. The problem is, not everyone knows about or follows these laws. In 2012, Hawaii was the final state to enact such a law, but the “Move Over” laws aren’t a new concept. The first “Move Over” law was introduced in South Carolina in 1996 following the death of a paramedic who was struck at a crash scene.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has reached out to state and local highway safety partners to help get the word out to every motorist: Move Over. It’s the Law.
Move Over. It’s the Law
“We see it too often,” said Tim Rutkowski, Huron County Prosecutor, “These law enforcement officers work in dangerous situations all the time, but drivers really increase that risk for them when they zoom by and ignore the flashing lights—and the law.”
In 2013, 46 law enforcement officers were struck and killed in traffic incidents. That’s why all drivers need to know the law and follow it: to protect those who protect us.
Prosecutor Rutkowski stressed the meaning behind the national awareness campaign. “Many drivers seem to think that moving over is just an optional courtesy when they see law enforcement or emergency vehicles pulled over on the side of the road,” he said. “It’s not optional. Move Over. It’s the Law.”
Move Over Michigan
In Michigan, failure to exhibit due care and caution when passing a stationary authorized emergency vehicle with its lights on could result in up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine of $500 plus court costs. If an injury or death results in failing to show due care, the penalties increase dramatically.
Emergency personnel can only do so much to keep themselves safe when they pull over on the side of the road. The rest of the responsibility falls on all motorists. So remember, next time you see those flashing lights ahead, Move Over. It’s the Law.