It’s a sad commentary on basic human courtesy that such a law is needed. The sight of anyone, or any vehicle, pulled over on the side of a highway should be enough to prompt oncoming traffic to slow down and/or pull over for the safety of the people there.
But since 1999, the National Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial Fund has recorded 170 deaths of law enforcement officers in the United States who were struck by motor vehicles, and thousands more injured.
The law requires motorists to move over one lane when authorized emergency-responder vehicles — including police, fire and EMS vehicles and tow trucks — are stopped or parked roadside with emergency signals activated.
Alabama’s director of the Department of Public Safety, Col. Hugh McCall, said, “To do our jobs, we must work in close proximity to traffic. The ‘move over’ law provides all first responders and emergency workers the clearance they need to work safely.”
The law requires that where there are four or more lanes, drivers are to move over one lane, or if it’s unsafe to move over, to slow down to a speed at least 15 miles per hour below the posted limit. Where there are two lanes, the requirement is to move over as far as possible without leaving the lane and to slow down to a speed at least 15 miles per hour below the posted limit if the speed is 25 or higher, or to 10 miles per hour if the posted speed is 20 or less.
Alabama’s law was enacted in 2006, and most states now have similar laws.
It just makes sense to look out for the safety of others near our highways, and police and emergency workers are at special risk because they are in harm’s way more often.
With driving such a common part of our lives, it’s easy to forget how dangerous motor vehicles can be to ourselves and to others. We need to remember our responsibility to others every time we get behind the wheel, and to grant that extra courtesy to emergency workers and others at risk on the roadside.
Even if it weren’t the law, it just makes sense.
Move over, Alabama!