South Carolina bill would make way for emergency vehicles

| 12/17/2007

A commonsense practice that road veterans have followed for decades would become mandatory for all drivers if legislation in South Carolina becomes law. Another bill would get tough with commercial drivers found to be driving under the influence.

The first bill, dubbed the “Move Over” bill, is designed to protect police and other emergency personnel during roadside stops. Rep. J. Todd Rutherford, D-Columbia, filed the legislation for consideration during the 2008 regular session. It would require drivers to maintain a safe distance and reduce speed when approaching stationary emergency vehicles that are by the roadside with their lights flashing.

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

There is no fine included in the bill, but failure to obey the rule would result in four points being assessed against a driver’s record.

According to the Web site of a safety advocacy group known as “Move Over, America,” 40 states have implemented similar rules.

The other bill of interest to truckers would strengthen penalties for drivers of commercial vehicles found to be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Sponsored by Sen. Chip Campsen, R-Charleston, the bill would mandate the disqualification from driving a CMV for people found to have a positive drug test or alcohol confirmation test. Driving privileges would be reinstated once offenders complete an alcohol or drug program.

The bills are in committee awaiting consideration during the regular session that begins Jan. 8, 2008.

To view other legislative activities of interest for South Carolina in 2007, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor