A practice followed by professional truck drivers for decades is now law in Colorado.
Gov. Bill Owens has signed off on a measure, dubbed the “Move Over” law, designed to protect police and other emergency personnel during roadside stops.
The new rule took effect July 1.
Existing Colorado law requires that motorists yield the right-of-way when an ambulance or police vehicle is approaching with lights and sirens activated.
The new law, previously HB1187, requires motorists to also maintain a safe distance and reduce speed when approaching stationary emergency vehicles that are alongside 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 in 2004, 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.
The new rule requires drivers to merge into a lane further away from an emergency vehicle. On two-lane highways, drivers are 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.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Colorado is at least the 30th state to implement the safety zone rule.