Massachusetts bills would make way for emergency vehicles

| Friday, September 28, 2007

A common-sense practice that road veterans have followed for decades would be mandated if legislation in Massachusetts becomes law.

Dubbed the “Move Over” bill, it is designed to protect police and other emergency personnel during roadside stops.

Sponsored by Sen. James Timilty, D-Walpole, the bill – S2103 – would require drivers to maintain a safe distance and reduce speed when approaching stationary emergency vehicles that are by the road with their lights flashing.

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

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

Another bill in Massachusetts is intended to clear the path for oncoming emergency personnel vehicles. Drivers would be required to yield the right-of-way when an ambulance or police vehicle is approaching with lights and sirens activated.

Sponsored by Rep. Kathi-Anne Reinstein, D-Revere, the bill – H3612 – includes the requirement to maintain a safe distance and reduce speed when approaching stationary emergency vehicles by the road with their lights flashing.

It specifies that drivers must merge into a lane further away from an emergency vehicle. On two-lane highways, drivers would be required to reduce their speed by 20 mph before passing the emergency vehicle.

Failure to obey the rule would result in a $50 fine.

The bills are in committee.

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

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor
keith_goble@landlinemag.com

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