In connection with National Police Week, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) are reminding motorists of their obligation to move over or slow down when passing emergency vehicles responding to an incident.
“First responders are putting their lives in danger every day while tending to emergency situations along Pennsylvania’s roadways,” said PSP Community Services Officer Trooper Andrew Hacke. “When you encounter these situations, do your part to keep everyone safe by reducing your speed or moving to a lane farther away.”
Pennsylvania’s Move Over Law requires drivers approaching an emergency response area to move over or slow down for all responders, including police, fire, and ambulance crews, as well as stopped tow trucks and maintenance vehicles. The law also mandates drivers change lanes or slow down when approaching disabled vehicles when at least two emergency displays, such as vehicle hazard lamps, road flares, and/or cones or caution signs are present.
When merging into another lane is not possible, the law requires drivers to pass at a speed of no more than 20 miles per hour less than the posted speed limit and reasonable for safely passing the emergency response area, which is defined as any spot where an emergency vehicle has its lights flashing, or where road crews or emergency responders have lighted flares, posted signs, or try to warn travelers.
“One of the many responsibilities our maintenance crews handle is the setup of lane closures and detours during emergency situations,” said Aaron Fox, manager of PennDOT’s Crawford County facility. “They’re doing their best to keep everyone on the road safe, so we ask that in return, drivers move over and slow down to ensure everyone makes it home to their families.”
Violating the Move Over Law can result in a citation carrying a fine of $500 for first-time offenders, a $1,000 fine for a second offense, and a $2,000 fine plus a 90-day license suspension for a third or subsequent offenses. Additionally, penalties are increased for any incident that results in serious or fatal injuries to another person.
A total of 155 first responders have been struck and killed in Pennsylvania attending to emergency scenes, according to data from the Emergency Responder Safety Institute.
More information on the Move Over Law can be found at www.PennDOT.pa.gov/safety.