Multiple states aim to modify, adopt 'move over' rules

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Officials in at least nine states are addressing a commonsense rule of the road. State lawmakers from Connecticut to Hawaii are pursuing legislation covering 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.

An Alabama bill would lengthen the protected list to include utility service vehicles.

A similar effort in Missouri would add state transportation emergency response vehicles and motorist assist vehicles. Also included in the bill is a misdemeanor charge to pass another vehicle in an area where emergency personnel are on the scene.

Stiff fines are nearing passage in Utah. On its way to the governor is a bill to require offenders to attend a four-hour live classroom defensive driving course. Failure to attend could result in loss of driving privileges for 90 days.

New Jersey lawmakers could soon decide whether to add three penalty points to the licenses of drivers found in violation of the state’s move over rule. Currently, offenders face fines of up to $500.

In Wisconsin, offenders would face double fines. If injuries result from a failure to move over, violators could be fined up to $10,000 and/or receive up to 42 months behind bars.

Bills in Connecticut, Minnesota and Iowa would clarify existing rules. The Connecticut bill would require travelers on roadways with at least two lanes each direction to make way for emergency personnel. The Minnesota version specifies that drivers reduce their speed while maneuvering around emergency vehicles parked along roadsides.

An Iowa bill would instruct drivers to reduce speed to at least 10 mph below the posted limit while passing. In addition, license suspension would result for vehicle damage or injuries that result from failure to move over.

Hawaii is the only state not to mandate the move over rule. However, that distinction could soon change.

The full House could vote as soon as Tuesday, March 6, to advance a bill to require travelers to make way for emergency personnel during roadside stops. If approved there, HB2030 would advance to the Senate before moving to the governor’s desk.

The legislative effort could garner the votes needed for passage this year in response to two recent traffic fatalities in Honolulu involving police officers.

Sponsored by Rep. Gil Keith-Agaran, D-Maui, the bill would require drivers to move into a lane away from emergency vehicles, including tow trucks, parked along roadsides with lights flashing. If unable to move over, drivers would be required to reduce speed and maintain a safe distance.

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