SPRINGVILLE—Increased penalties might be coming for drivers who don’t move over when passing an emergency vehicle, with Senator Patrick Gallivan introducing legislation regarding the Move Over Law.
First established in 2011, the Move Over Law requires passing drivers to move over and slow down when approaching parked emergency vehicles with lights flashing. Gallivan recently introduced legislation calling for higher fines and a mandatory six-month revocation of a driver’s license when serious injury or death is caused due to not following the Move Over Law. The legislation also calls for the Division of Criminal Justice Services to establish a public information campaign to show the seriousness of violating the law and dangers emergency personnel face on a daily basis.
“Unfortunately, too many drivers ignore the law or are unaware of the rules,” Gallivan said in a press release. “In addition to increasing the penalty for those who violate the law, we need to do more to educate drivers about the importance of slowing down and moving over when approaching an emergency vehicle, construction vehicle or tow-truck.”
The Move Over Law requires drivers to slow down and safely move over when approaching law enforcement vehicles, fire trucks, ambulances, tow trucks, construction vehicles and maintenance vehicles stopped along roadways. The law was later changed in 2016 to also include volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers with blue or green flashing lights.
Though drivers do follow the Move Over Law, there is still room for improvement. Springville Volunteer Fire Department Chief Dave Klenk sees around 80 percent of people compliant with the law while Springville Police Department Chief Nick Budney sees only around 50 percent compliant.
“There is an increase in awareness, but not everybody follows what they are supposed to do,” Klenk said. “If people aren’t following the law, it definitely puts people at risk.”
With over 77,000 tickets issued to drivers in violation of the Move Over Law since its inception, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office, educating the public on the law’s importance and the dangers workers face when they are on the side of a roadway are crucial to keeping everyone as safe as possible.
“Between educating new drivers and targeting current drivers with that sort of a campaign, I think that is the way to do it,” Budney added. “We are in the position as law enforcement where we enforce laws all the time that people pretend to be ignorant about, but ultimately ignorance is not an excuse to not follow a law so it’s incumbent on drivers to make sure they know all the rules of the road.”
Klenk agreed increased awareness of the law will help keep his volunteers safe.
“People just aren’t paying attention. We need to increase people’s attention and awareness of when you have emergency vehicles and even non-emergency vehicles,’ Klenk added. “There definitely is a life safety aspect to it that people need to be aware of and part of the reason this was put into place was to reduce the number of fatalities that have been occurring as a result of people not being aware of it or not addressing it appropriately.”