Cumberland Times-News

Letters

July 17, 2014

Move over

Make room for police, EMS vehicles

— Have you noticed, in your travels, that the front end of a police cruiser usually protrudes a bit more than you would expect when the officer has it parked behind another vehicle on the side of the road?

That’s by design. It offers the officer a small measure of protection from passing traffic when he stands next to the road at the side of the car he’s stopped.

It has been reported that more officers are killed or injured each year during the course of a traffic stop, except for car accidents and while performing arrests.

Police officers aren’t the only ones at risk. So are ambulance personnel, firefighters and others whose jobs require them to stop beside the road.

Many states — including Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Virginia — have enacted so-called “move over” laws.

These laws require motorists approaching from the rear of an emergency vehicle using visual signals while stopped on a highway make a lane change if possible into an available lane not immediately adjacent to the emergency vehicle.

If moving to another lane is not possible, the law requires drivers to slow to a reasonable and prudent speed that is safe for existing weather, road and vehicular or pedestrian traffic conditions. As of Oct. 1, the law will be expanded to protect tow service operators.

Maryland State Police have expanded their efforts to enforce and inform drivers about the law. During June, troopers issued 1,165 citations and 2,594 warnings. They explain the law to those they have pulled over, and some motorists say they are unaware of the law that took effect in Maryland in October 2010.

Violation of the law is a primary offense with a fine of $110 and one point. If the violation contributes to a traffic crash, the fine is $150 and three points.

If the violation contributes to a traffic crash resulting in death or serious injury, the fine is $750 and three points.

A fine and points on your license are nothing, when compared to the knowledge you have claimed the life of a police officer, firefighter or EMS worker simply because you weren’t paying attention when you drove past.

Please do pay attention. Move to another lane if possible, or at least slow down.

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