Colorado considers emergency-vehicle bill

| Friday, March 18, 2005

A practice followed by professional truck drivers for decades would become law under an effort in the Colorado Legislature.

The measure, unanimously approved by the House last month, is designed to protect police and other emergency personnel during roadside stops. It has been forwarded to the state’s Senate for further consideration.

Colorado law now requires that motorists yield the right-of-way when an ambulance or police vehicle is approaching with lights and sirens activated.

The “Move Over” bill would also require motorists to maintain a safe distance and reduce speed when approaching stationary emergency vehicles that are by the road with their lights flashing.

The effort comes in response to 31 Colorado State Patrol vehicles hit during traffic stops or while attending to roadside emergencies, The Durango Herald reported.

In 2002, 78 people statewide died in roadside incidents linked to accident sites; in 2003, the number of accident-site fatalities rose to 85.

Sponsored by Rep. Mark Larson, R-Cortez, HB1187 would require drivers to merge into a lane further away from an emergency vehicle. On two-lane highways, drivers would be required to reduce speed before passing the emergency vehicle.

Failure to obey the law would result in at least a $50 fine and a four-point penalty on an offender’s license.

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