Connecticut bills would make way for emergency vehicles

| Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A practice followed by professional truck drivers for decades would be mandatory for all drivers if legislation in the Connecticut General Assembly is signed into law.

One measure, dubbed the "Move Over" bill, is designed to protect police and other emergency personnel during roadside stops.

Sponsored by Rep. Dick Belden, R-Shelton, the bill - HB5086 - would require drivers to maintain a safe distance and reduce speed when approaching stationary emergency vehicles by the road with their lights flashing.

Drivers would be required to merge into a lane further away from an emergency vehicle. If it's not possible to move over one lane, drivers would be required to reduce speed below the posted limit before passing the emergency vehicle.

"This is a pretty common-sense safety measure," Belden said in a written statement. "You should give these vehicles a wide berth, for your own safety, as well as for the safety of the operator of the emergency vehicle and anyone they may be assisting."

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 30 states have implemented similar safety zone rules.

Another bill in Connecticut is intended to clear the path for oncoming emergency personnel vehicles.

Sponsored by Rep. John Mazurek, D-Wolcott, the bill - HB5092 - would require drivers to yield the right-of-way when an ambulance or police vehicle is approaching with lights and sirens activated.

The Connecticut bills are in the state's Joint Committee on Transportation.

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