Massachusetts bill to require drivers to move over dies

| 8/13/2008

In Massachusetts, the clock ran out on a bill that called for mandating a practice that has been followed by professional truck drivers for decades. Dubbed the “Move Over Act,” the measure was designed to protect police and other emergency personnel during roadside stops.

The General Court wrapped up its regular work for the year at the end of July without approving a bill that would have required motorists to maintain a safe distance and reduce speed when approaching stationary emergency vehicles by the road with their lights flashing.

Sponsored by Sen. James Timilty, D-Walpole, the bill – S2103 – remained in a House committee when the session ended. The Senate approved it earlier in the week.

Drivers would have been required to merge into a lane farther away from an emergency vehicle. On two-lane highways, drivers would have been required to reduce speed before passing the emergency vehicle.

Included in the protection would have been highway maintenance and recovery vehicles.

Failure to obey the rule would have resulted in up to a $100 fine.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, about 40 states have implemented similar safety zone rules. The effort in Massachusetts can be brought back for consideration during the legislative session that begins in January 2009.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Massachusetts in 2008, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor