By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor
Officials in at least a half dozen states are addressing a commonsense rule of the road. The legislation being pursued covers a requirement that travelers make way for vehicles, typically emergency personnel, during roadside stops.
According to AAA, 49 states have implemented similar safety zone rules. Hawaii is the lone holdout.
Arizona is one of at least four states this year to adopt a change to their existing rule. The Grand Canyon State already requires drivers to move over to the next lane or slow down when approaching emergency vehicles on the shoulder. Violators face $250 fines.
Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law a bill to expand the vehicles covered to include any vehicle parked on the side of the road, including large trucks. The rule change takes effect in late July.
Owner-operator and OOIDA Senior Member Brady Perry of Casa Grande, AZ, said he welcomes the protection, but he doubts most motorists will follow it.
“It would most definitely benefit safety. It’s dangerous walking around any vehicle by the roadway,” Perry recently told Land Line. “I just don’t think it would ever work. There are too many people who don’t know the basic driving rules.”
As of July 1, the list of vehicles covered under Tennessee’s “move over” law will be expanded to include utility vehicles.
People traveling through Tennessee already are required to move into a lane away from emergency vehicles and highway maintenance vehicles, including tow trucks, parked along roadsides with lights flashing. If unable to move over, drivers are required to reduce speed and maintain a safe distance. Offenders face fines starting at $100.
A new Idaho law addresses a perceived loophole in the state’s move over rule.
State law has required vehicles traveling on highways with two or more lanes in the same direction to change lanes as soon as possible “in a manner that is reasonable and prudent.” Violators face $85 fines.
The intent is to require drivers to change lanes out of the lane nearest to an emergency vehicle. However, drivers who have changed lanes into the lane nearest stopped emergency vehicles have claimed that they complied with the law by making the lane change.
Taking effect July 1 is a rule change to make it clear that drivers must change lanes out of the lane adjacent to the stopped emergency vehicle.
In Utah, violators of the state’s move over rule will soon face stiffer penalties. In addition to a $125 already in place, offenders would be required to attend a four-hour defensive driving course. Failure to attend the course within 90 days would result in loss of driving privileges for 90 days.
According to reports, the change comes in response to an average of 13 drivers being cited daily for failure to abide by the law.
Florida lawmakers are considering a bill – HB1135 – to boost the fine for failure to make way for emergency vehicles or wreckers from $30 to $200. A similar bill – S1554 – calls for $100 fines.
A bill analysis reports that 2,438 citations were issued by Florida law enforcement in 2010.
A bill halfway through the Texas statehouse would expand the list of emergency vehicles covered by the protection to include tow trucks. Existing state law authorizes fines up to $200 for failure to move over or slow down. Heftier punishment is doled out for property damage or injury resulting from inaction.
The House unanimously approved the bill, clearing the way for HB378 to advance to the Senate.
Editor’s Note: Please share your thoughts with us about the legislation included in this story. Comments may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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