Have a HeartMarch 2, 2012 | in My Kind of Driving
For Valentine’s Day, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Department of
Transportation (TxDOT) teamed up to remind drivers to show law enforcement officers and
emergency workers they care by moving over or slowing down, not only on Valentine’s Day, but
every day. TxDOT displayed the move-over or slow-down message on their electronic message boards
beginning after evening rush hour on Friday, Feb. 12, and ending before rush hour on Monday, Feb.
15. The message boards read, “IF EMERGENCY VEHICLE STOPPED AHEAD, MOVE
OVER OR SLOW DOWN. IT’S THE LAW.”
Since the move-over or slow-down law took effect on Sept. 1, 2003, DPS has given 14,288 citations
to drivers who have violated the law. Although both DPS and TxDOT have worked to educate
drivers about this law, Highway Patrol troopers and other law enforcement officers continue to see
drivers who do not move over or slow down for emergency vehicles. The law applies to stopped
emergency vehicles with lights activated, including police, emergency medical service and fire
vehicles. In Texas these tickets will count as moving violations that may require a driver saftey course for point reduction.
In Texas, in 2009, nine crashes involved an emergency vehicle that was parked for emergency purposes, including law enforcement traffic stops. Although the number is relatively low, each crash can have catastrophic results. (http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/video/news/danger/index.htm)
The move-over or slow-down law requires drivers nearing stopped emergency vehicles with
emergency lights activated to either slow down or change lanes. Specifically, the law states a driver
must either slow down 20 miles per hour below the speed limit or vacate the lane closest to the
stopped emergency vehicle that has emergency lights activated if the road has multiple lanes
traveling in the same direction. (If the speed limit is below 25 mph, the driver must slow down to 5
mph.) Drivers should only move over if they can safely and legally do so; otherwise, they
should slow down.
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