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Wisconsin Department of Transportation

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January law of the month

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Move Over Law: Drivers must provide a safety zone for stopped law enforcement and other emergency vehicles

“Tow truck operator killed while working on the interstate.” “Trooper’s cruiser hit by out-of-control vehicle.” The Wisconsin State Patrol wants to put an end to tragic headlines like these.

“Drivers have a legal and moral responsibility to help protect those who must work on the side of busy roads while fast-moving vehicles pass by just a few feet away,“ says Wisconsin State Patrol Superintendent Stephen Fitzgerald.

“To prevent needless deaths and injuries, drivers must comply with Wisconsin’s Move Over Law, which provides a safety zone for workers on the side of roadways,” Superintendent Fitzgerald explains. “By law, drivers are required to shift lanes if possible or at least slow down when encountering a law enforcement vehicle, ambulance, fire truck, tow truck, highway maintenance vehicle or utility vehicle that is stopped on the side of a road with its warning lights flashing. On interstate highways and other divided roads with multiple directional lanes, you must move over to vacate the lane closest to the law enforcement or other emergency vehicle if you can safely switch lanes. If the road has a single directional lane or you can’t safely move over because of traffic, you must reduce your speed until safely past the vehicle.”

A citation for a Move Over Law violation costs $263.50 with three demerit points added to your driver’s license. But the greatest danger of a violation is not an expensive fine. A recent dash cam video from a State Patrol cruiser shows a Move Over Law violation that came shockingly close to seriously injuring a trooper during a traffic stop. The video is available online on the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s You Tube channel.

“During winter months, law enforcement officers, tow truck operators and others frequently must respond to crashes and assist motorists whose vehicles have slid off icy roads. Officers and other workers are in danger of being hit while inside or outside their vehicles by out-of-control or speeding vehicles that did not move over,” Superintendent Fitzgerald says. “By obeying the Move Over Law, drivers can protect themselves, their passengers, our officers and others who work on highways from serious injuries and deaths.”

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Last modified: January 5, 2015

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