Pitt County Emergency officials stress the importance of Move-Over Laws

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – North Carolina’s move-over law protects state troopers and other law enforcement officers and emergency and utility workers stopped alongside our highways, according to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety.

Triple A says 24 emergency responders, law enforcement, and tow truck operators are killed each year while working the roadside.

The law requires motorists to slow down and approach cautiously when an emergency vehicle is stopped on the shoulder of the roadway with its lights flashing.

Motorists are also required to move over to another lane away from the emergency vehicle on a multi-lane highway or slow down on a two-lane highway and can do so safely.

Pitt County Fire Marshall, Jay Morris has been working in emergency management for years and says move-over laws are a vital part of being able to get the job done in emergencies. “After 37 years of doing this, being on the side of the road is still the scariest thing that we do on a daily basis so we encourage everyone to slow down, move over when possible, and give the responders the wideset berth that is safely as possible so that they can continue to do their job and not become a victim themselves.”

All 50 states have move-over laws to protect law enforcement officers and other first responders stopped on roadways, yet one-third of Americans are not aware of these laws, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Morris says, “There’s been many of times that people just don’t slow down at all and sometimes it seems like they’re challenging to see how close to us they can get. Pretty much every wreck scene that we work out on the highway, it’s almost a day-to-day basis where someone doesn’t slow down or doesn’t give us the room to work and so we try to always never turn our back to traffic and always have someone posted where that’s their main job is to watch traffic because you just don’t know what the next driver’s thinking.”

A violation of the move-over law will result in a mandatory fine of $250 plus court costs.

The NCDPS says move-over laws started in July of 2006 when fines increased to $500 along with the possibility of being charged with a felony if a collision occurs that results in serious injury or death.