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Travis Baker blogs about the problems and idiosyncrasies of Kitsap highways and byways.
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Warnings common in Move Over Law enforcement

April 22nd, 2014 by travis baker

The in basket: Three years ago, the State Patrol put out a news release saying they would be emphasizing enforcement on a new law requiring drivers to move over or slow down for any emergency vehicle stopped on the shoulder with its emergency lights flashing.

A couple of months ago, I asked Trooper Russ Winger, who speaks for the local patrol detachment,. how that enforcement had been going. He said he was researching that.

The out basket: Tuesday, he provided a report on what he’d found.

“I polled troopers (here) about enforcement of the Move Over Law,” he said. “I received quite a few responses and the underlying theme is that while troopers stop cars for the violation, actual ticketing is low.

“Many of the troopers felt that there is some effort by motorists to comply with the law and they use any contacts to further educate drivers about (it).

“Several of the troopers responded that they feel the roadways could use more signage about the law. There seem to be very few regulatory signs along the roadways, and more might help.

“Many motorists that are stopped say they were unaware of the law and its requirements. Again, the WSP always tries to educate motorists, taking the least amount of enforcement to gain compliance.”

He included a newer news release quoting WSP Chief John Batiste on the subject:

“This law couldn’t be easier to comply with,” said Batiste. “All you have to do is ease off the gas and, if it’s safe, ease to the left.” Batiste added a caution, however, about sudden maneuvers intended to comply with the law. He stressed that simply slowing down and easing left is sufficient. “We don’t want people making sudden maneuvers that could be even more dangerous,” he said.

He didn’t say so, but his advice applies only to multi-lane highways. They don’t want you easing to the left into oncoming traffic on a two-lane highway. Just slow down (“ease off the gas”) on those roadways.

Since the law went into effect, state troopers have contacted more than 10,000 violators using a mix of education and enforcement to win compliance, he said. Troopers report that most drivers understand the reason for the law once it’s explained to them.

The law applies to ambulances, tow trucks and highway maintenance vehicles as well as the police.

There has been some wild-eyed e-mails about this kind of law in other states, claiming greatly exaggerated fines and reduced speed requirements. If you get one, ignore it.

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3 Responses to “Warnings common in Move Over Law enforcement”

  1. Mase Says:

    Ease to the left? That contradicts the WA State Driver Guide page 3-22:

    “You must yield the right-of-way to a police vehicle, fire
    engine, ambulance, or other emergency vehicle using a siren,
    air horn, or a red or blue flashing light. Pull over to the right
    edge of the road, or as near to the right as possible, and stop
    when you see or hear an emergency vehicle approaching
    from any direction. If you are in an intersection, drive
    through the intersection before you pull over. If the light is
    red, stay where you are. Follow any instructions given over
    the emergency vehicle’s loudspeaker.”

  2. Eric Blair Says:

    Mase, read the first paragraph. “new law requiring drivers to move over or slow down for any emergency vehicle stopped on the shoulder with its emergency lights flashing”

  3. Mase Says:

    Yeah I missed that part, thanks.

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You can reach Travis Baker at tvisb@wavecable.com

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