How much to slow down if you can’t ‘move over’ is still uncertain

The in basket: Leroy McVay, a regular Road Warrior reader in Poulsbo, writes, in what seems like a primitive form of text messaging, “Recently got an e-mail from a friend in OK. that her friend got a megabucks ticket for not slowing down enough in a ‘move over’ situation with police and aid units.  Was end of September, saw several LARGE black & white signs along the highway reminding people to ‘move over.’
“The best info I’ve seen on this law came from your column in the Sun,” Leroy said. “I still haven’t heard how much we’re expected to slow down if we can’t move over.  5 mph?  15 mph?  Perhaps you can get the answer to my question and save someone a BIG ticket.”

The out basket: It remains a “know it when they see it” situation for the police. Trooper Krista Hedstrom of the State Patrol detachment here refers us to one of her agency’s online “Good to Know” advisories on the subject, but it’s only 48 seconds long and spends most of its advice on the ‘Move Over” part of the law, not the ‘slow down’ part. You can see it at

I’d say that even if you do move over, you won’t want to be traveling over the speed limit as you pass the emergency. And a ticket is more likely if there were no vehicles in the next lane to keep you from moving over and you don’t.

Krista says, “You can usually tell when someone slows down or has room to move over.  Most drivers are getting pretty good at slowing down and moving over.”

It won’t do you or me any good in court if we are cited for this, but I would argue that since the law applies to just 200 feet before and after the emergency vehicle, which doesn’t give you a lot of time to react at highway speeds, getting down to 10 mph under the speed limit would be a nice compromise between not endangering those on the shoulder and not creating a whole new emergency behind you.

Certainly, using your brakes to slow rather than just taking your foot off the gas would show an officer traveling behind you that you made an effort.

I’d also take that e-mail about the megabucks ticket with a grain of salt. This new law in several states has produced a few urban legend type misrepresentations.

2 thoughts on “How much to slow down if you can’t ‘move over’ is still uncertain

  1. Ok try this on for size, Wrecker sitting on the side of I-5 Lights Flashing, no disabled car in evidence, WSP Motorcycle Trooper hiding next to the right front fender. Safety or revenue measure? I am beginning to wonder. If Officersd are so concerned with not getting hit why do the unmarked units kill their lights during a stop? I see this sort of thing every day and frankly I am getting a little concerned at the predatory “enforcement” tactics being used. Let’s go back to Marked Cars and Uniformed Officers for traffic patrol, it is safer for everyone involved.

  2. What difference does it make if the officer is ‘hidden’ or not?
    If a driver doesn’t know the rules of the road, should they be driving on public roads?
    Drivers ignoring driving rules should get a ticket if they’re caught.
    Follow the driving laws and you won’t get a ticket.
    Sharon O’Hara

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Before you post, please complete the prompt below.

Is water a solid or a liquid at room temperature?