By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor
Failure to move over and slow down for emergency vehicles during roadside stops in New York could soon result in tickets. An enhanced version of the rule is slated to take effect in Washington state.
New York is one of at least four states this year to make changes to existing law or adopt rules to help protect law enforcement, firefighters, paramedics and others. In all, more than 45 states have enacted laws to protect emergency personnel.
According to a New York State Police news release, more than 160 police officers have been struck and killed on U.S. roads since 1999.
To help prevent such incidents, the so-called “Move Over” law requires drivers traveling on multilane roadways to move away from the lane closest to any emergency vehicle on the side of the road with lights on. Drivers are also required to slow down.
On two-lane roads, drivers are required to slow down as they approach parked emergency vehicles.
Violators would face a $275 fine and two points would be added to their driving record.
A new law in Washington state bolsters the existing rule. Drivers in the state already are required to make room for certain emergency, roadside assistance or police vehicles stopped along roadsides.
The new law defines “emergency zones.” As of Saturday, Jan. 1, traveling within 200 feet of parked emergency vehicles with lights flashing will be in the zone.
Speeding fines in these protected areas would be double. Violators could also face charges of reckless endangerment of emergency workers and loss of driving privileges for 60 days, up to one year in jail, and as much as $5,000 in fines.
Delaware lawmakers also acted this year to enhance state law to authorize felony charges for certain violators. In August, stiffer penalties were implemented for striking an emergency worker.
Delaware law already required drivers to merge into a lane farther away from law enforcement, firefighters, ambulances, tow trucks and transportation workers, if practical. If unable to switch lanes, drivers are required to slow down and proceed with caution.
Violators who strike an emergency worker would face a Class F Felony.
Elsewhere, Maryland implemented similar safety zone rules. Since Oct. 1, drivers in the state are required to make room for emergency workers and law enforcement officers. Drivers are required to maintain a safe distance and reduce speed before passing emergency vehicles parked by the road with their lights flashing.
Violators would face $500 fines.
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