Rhode Island Gov. Donald Carcieri has signed a bill into law that mandates a common-sense practice that road veterans have followed for decades. The new law, previously SB2084, is designed to protect police and other emergency personnel during roadside stops.
Now in effect, it requires motorists to maintain a safe distance and reduce speed when approaching stationary emergency vehicles that are within 12 feet of roadways with their lights flashing.
On highways with two or more lanes in one direction, drivers are required to merge into a lane farther away from an emergency vehicle, if practical. If they are unable to change lanes or are driving on two-lane highways, travelers are required to slow to a reduced speed.
Failure to obey the law would result in $75 fines.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, about 40 states have implemented similar safety zone rules.
To view other legislative activities of interest for Rhode Island in 2008, click here.
– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor