Move over and use common sense

Published 9:21 pm Friday, August 14, 2009

Alabama’s “move-over” law was first enacted in 2006 in response to numerous reports of law enforcement officers being struck by vehicles and sometimes killed while working on the roadside.

The law basically states that on multi-lane highways, motorists should move over from the outer lane when they meet an emergency vehicle stopped on the shoulder of the road with lights flashing.

Cars approaching emergency vehicles on two-lane highways, or when passing is not possible on a four-lane, should slow down to 15 mph below the posted speed limit.

Rep. Jimmy Martin sponsored this bill in the Alabama Legislature, and several other states have adopted similar versions of the law.

This law, like several other traffic laws, should be observed by motorists whether it is law or not simply because allowing more room between your vehicle and emergency workers is common courtesy.

But the “move-over” law is on the books, and it carries with it a $25 fine for first-time offenders. Aug. 1 began a six-month educational period, after which motorists clearly not observing this law will be subject to a fine.

When driving, especially on the Interstate, it is best to always move over when approaching any vehicle or person on the side of the road, when it’s safe to change lanes. For this reason, we should always look ahead and be prepared to move over when we can. Of course, there are always times when traffic is so heavy that there is no opportunity to move over.

We should always watch out for emergency officials, as well as highway workers, flagmen, people picking up litter, and even people stopping to change a flat tire.

Signals should always be used when changing lanes. It also helps to glance quickly over the shoulder, because mirrors do not reveal a vehicle if it happens to be in your blind spot.

The laws are meant to keep us safe, but even in observing them we need to let safety be our first priority.