Obey the law – ‘Move Over’

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 22, 2005

When traveling, do you know what to do when encountering an emergency vehicle?

North Carolina law says, &uot;move over.&uot;

With the state’s first major travel week upcoming due to the Easter holiday, North Carolina Highway Patrol troopers will be out in force, specifically on the lookout for those in violation of the state’s Move Over law. Troopers will also crack down on aggressive drivers during the holiday travel period.

&uot;We will be enforcing all traffic laws, but we will increase our patrols on the heavily traveled roads in our district where we will be keeping a close eye out for those driving in an aggressive manner as well as enforcing the Move Over law,&uot; said First Sgt. B.A. Jones of the Highway Patrol’s Troop A office in Ahoskie.

Sgt. Jones identified an aggressive driver as one that flagrantly violates the motor vehicle laws, included but not limited to excessive speeding, following too closely, erratic lane changes, safe movement violations and other forms of reckless endangerment.

The state’s Move Over law, enacted in 2002, requires motorists, when approaching a parked or standing emergency vehicle with its lights flashing on the shoulder of the highway, to move to a lane not nearest the emergency vehicle if possible, or reduce speed. Motorists should travel in that lane until clear of the emergency vehicle. Motorists on two-lane roads should slow down and use caution when passing a parked or standing emergency vehicle.

&uot;The Move Over law is a way to protect law enforcement officers and emergency responders such as fire and rescue that are stopped on the shoulder of the road in performance of their duties,&uot; Sgt. Jones said. &uot;It increases highway safety by helping to keep the travel lanes clear and moving freely.&uot;

Sgt. Jones said that in the last three years alone, 69 troopers have been struck on North Carolina highways. Two died as the result of injuries sustained in those mishaps. In both cases, the drivers of the vehicles responsible for the fatalities failed to move over.

In addition, studies have shown that 30 percent of all crashes occur as the result of another crash. Giving emergency responders plenty of room and clearing the road in the wake of a crash reduces the chance that another fender-bender will occur.

Another little-known North Carolina regulation that helps to ease traffic congestion is the Fender Bender law. That law, enacted last year, states that motorists involved in a minor, non-injury accident on a highway are required to move their vehicles to the shoulder of the road as quickly as possible. The act also authorizes law enforcement officials to remove, without liability, commercial truck cargo and other personal property interfering with traffic flow.

Motorists involved in such minor mishaps will not be penalized by their insurance company or law enforcement officials for moving their vehicles. Upon moving their vehicle to the side of the road, contact law enforcement by dialing 911.

Failure to abide by the Move Over law could result in a $25 fine plus an estimated $100 in court costs. Violation of the Fender Bender law could result in a $10 fine plus an estimated $100 in court costs.