By Fran Hunt
Greene Publishing, Inc.
Florida’s Move Over Law was instituted in the State of Florida in July 2002 to protect law enforcement officers and other emergency workers stopped alongside highways. That law states that “motorists are required to approach cautiously when an emergency vehicle is stopped ahead with its lights flashing. Motorists must change lanes away from the emergency vehicle if they are on a multi-lane highway and can do so SAFELY. If drivers can’t change lanes safely, or they are on a two-lane highway, they must slow down while maintaining a safe speed so as not to impede other traffic. A violation can result in fines being assessed.”
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reports that with Florida’s Move Over Law there are still too many motorists who are unaware of the law or simply choose not to comply with the law. However, the risks of violating this law are too great to ignore.
Violators threaten the lives of troopers and first responders as well as the motoring public. During the five-year period of 1996 to 2000, motorists in Florida crashed into working law enforcement vehicles that were either stopped or parked along Florida roadways 1,793 times, resulting in five deaths and 419 injuries.
Even with the Move Over Law, Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) lost a trooper earlier this year. Trooper Chelsea Richard was struck and killed by a vehicle on May 3, 2014, while investigating a traffic incident on I-75, near mile marker 341 in Ocala.
The vehicles involved in the incident had been moved to the shoulder of the Interstate. She was speaking with a tow truck driver and a family member of a crash victim when a pickup truck pulling a trailer left the roadway and struck all three individuals, killing Trooper Richard and the tow truck driver. The third pedestrian suffered severe injuries and died several days later.
On July 1, 2014 that law was amended. Until now, drivers were only required to move over for emergency vehicles. They will now have to move over for garbage and utility trucks as well or risk facing a fine and points on their license.
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