A law in Montana that mandates a common-sense practice that
road veterans have followed for decades would get a facelift under a bill that is
halfway through the statehouse.
The Senate voted 47-3 to approve a revised measure, dubbed
the "Move Over" bill, designed to protect police and other emergency personnel
during roadside stops. It now heads to the House for consideration.
Montana law now requires motorists to yield the right-of-way
when an ambulance or police vehicle is approaching with lights and sirens
activated. It also mandates that drivers reduce speed when approaching
stationary emergency vehicles that are alongside the road with their lights
If possible, they also would be required to merge into a
lane further away from an emergency vehicle.
Sponsored by Sen. John Esp, R-Big Timber, the bill is
intended to further enhance the state's safety measures for police and other
emergency personnel along roadsides.
On highways with posted speed limits of 50 mph or more, not
only would drivers be required to merge into a lane further away from an
emergency vehicle but they also would be required to reduce their speed by 25
On highways with one lane in each direction, drivers would
be required to move as far left as possible before passing the emergency
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures,
at least 30 states have implemented similar safety zone rules.
The Montana bill - SB222 - is awaiting assignment to
committee in the House.
Similar measures have been offered in states that include
Connecticut, New Jersey and Rhode Island.