Originally Published: October 6, 2015 12:03 a.m.
Recently I was driving on Prescott Lakes Parkway between Highway 89 and Highway 69 when I noticed a number of motorists ignoring an Arizona traffic law.
I passed a road sign that had the words "STATE LAW" in bold black letters on a yellow background. Underneath that was the message: "Move over or slow down for stopped emergency vehicles." About 500 feet beyond the sign, I saw a truck on the side of the road with flashing yellow emergency lights on its roof. A man wearing a yellow safety vest appeared to be inspecting something next to the roadway. Four cars in front of me in the right lane neither slowed down nor moved to the left lane when they passed the emergency vehicle. I can only assume those drivers were ignorant of the law, although that would be a pretty lame excuse since they all just passed a big sign clearly stating the law.
On the other hand, it might be that many drivers think the term "emergency vehicles" applies only to police and fire department vehicles. However, that's not the case. According to the law, motorists are required to move over or slow down for ANY vehicle with flashing lights, including roadside assistance, maintenance vehicles and even a privately owned vehicle that has pulled over because of a flat tire or some other mechanical problem.
Arizona's "Move Over" law was enacted in 2005. According to www.moveoverlaws.com, in 2005, 390 workers were killed in struck-by incidents, accounting for 7 percent of all fatal occupational injuries. National statistics show that one tow truck driver is killed about every six days, an average of one law enforcement officer and 23 highway workers are killed every month and five firefighters are killed every year by drivers who don't move over or slow down, according www.moveoveraz.com.
The families of road construction workers and tow truck drivers shouldn't have to wonder if their loved one will come home at the end of his or her shift every day. The jobs of first responders are risky enough as it is, they shouldn't have to worry about being killed by an inattentive driver while they assist people on the side of the road.
Drivers caught failing to obey the Move Over law can be hit with a fine of $150 or more, depending on the jurisdiction, so whenever you see a vehicle alongside the road with flashing lights, remember to move over or slow down. It's common sense, it's the law and it could save a life - maybe even your own.
- Jim Painter, News Editor
Follow Jim Painter on Facebook at FB.me/jimpainterprescott. Reach him at 928-445-3333, Ext. 2035, 928-642-0560 or email@example.com.