The NHTSA is releasing new campaign materials associated with its ‘Move Over’ initiative. The goal is to increase public awareness of the laws in all 50 states that require drivers to move over when first responders, like police, are present on a road. The NHTSA says that 65 first responders died in traffic-related incidents in 2021, up from 47 in 2017.
The “Move Over” law is actually different in every state and according to the NHTSA, one-third of the public is not aware of these laws. As a result of that lack of awareness, it’s working hand-in-hand with law enforcement and State highway safety offices. Evidently, traffic-related incidents are the number one cause of death among on-duty law enforcement officers.
Aside from working with those agencies, the NHTSA is also using a new set of materials specifically focused on Move Over laws. That includes numerous images, infographics (like the one seen below), and even short videos that demonstrate moving over for first responders.
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While the laws vary from state to state, the NHTSA does have a couple of specific tips that it says will apply in most places. If an emergency vehicle is using any visual signal and is stopped or parked on or next to a roadway, drivers have two steps they should take.
First, change lanes into a lane that’s not directly next to the emergency vehicle. Second, if that’s not possible due to conditions, slow down to a safe speed for existing weather, road, and vehicular or pedestrian traffic conditions.” It goes on to say that while laws differ, some states can actually penalize violators of the move-over law with jail time.
It stands to reason that nobody is intentionally running into first responders. Still, additional attention around the importance of moving over when first responders are present can only aid in safety. For example, a third or so of individuals unfamiliar with the law could be more prone to staying in the lane near the first responders.
Should one of those respondents believe that the lane is clear and walk out into it, accidents can and do occur.