Rhode Island bill would require drivers to 'move over'

| 3/23/2007

A common-sense practice that road veterans have followed for decades would be mandated if a bill in the Rhode Island Senate becomes law.

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

Sponsored by Sen. John Tassoni Jr., D-Smithfield, the bill would require motorists to maintain a safe distance and reduce speed when approaching stationary emergency vehicles that are alongside the road with their lights flashing.

On highways with two or more lanes in one direction, drivers would be required to merge into a lane further away from an emergency vehicle. Drivers also would be required to reduce speed to 10 mph below the posted limit before passing the emergency vehicle.

Failure to obey the law would result in a $75 fine.

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

Rhode Island's effort - SB23 - is in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Similar measures have been offered this year in states that include Connecticut, Montana and New Jersey.