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San Rafael Police Department

San Rafael Police Department

For Immediate Release

Author: Sergeant Justin Graham
Date: November 07, 2022 10:15 AM

San Rafael Police and NHTSA Spread Awareness: "Move Over" to Protect First Responders

San Rafael, CA — Every day, thousands of law enforcement officers and other first responders take to the streets to help keep Americans safe. And every day, they put their lives at risk to do so. One of the most dangerous parts of a first responder’s job is stepping out on the side of the road, whether it is for a traffic stop, to assist a motorist, or to investigate a crash. Since 2017, there have been 149 law enforcement officers alone killed in traffic-related incidents.

In an effort to protect law enforcement and first responders, every State has “Move Over” laws, requiring drivers to slow down and, if safe to do so, move over when approaching stopped emergency vehicles with emergency lights activated. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is working with local highway safety partners and law enforcement to help get the word out to every motorist: Move Over. It’s the Law. 

The “Move Over” law isn’t new: It was first introduced in South Carolina in 1996. In 2012, Hawaii was the final State to enact such a law. The law protects all first responders, including law enforcement, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, safety service patrols, and towing vehicles. Unfortunately, law enforcement officers and other first responders are still killed every year by drivers who fail to move over.

“It’s such an easy thing to do to keep our first responder community safe,” said Captain Glenn McElderry. “These emergency personnel work in dangerous situations all the time, but drivers really increase that risk for them when they zoom by and ignore the flashing lights — and the law.” That’s why all drivers need to know the law and follow it. By following this law, we protect those who protect us.

NHTSA has used a similar high-visibility approach in other traffic safety campaigns, such as Click It or Ticket, to increase seat belt use. These tactics have proven helpful in getting the word out about existing laws and the reasons they’re important. 

Captain Glenn McElderry stressed the meaning behind the national awareness campaign. “Many drivers seem to think that moving over is just an optional courtesy when they see law enforcement or emergency vehicles pulled over on the side of the road,” he said. “It’s not optional. Move Over. It’s the Law.”  

In California, the “Move Over” laws state that drivers must either change lanes or reduce speed when approaching an active emergency vehicle with blinking lights. Failure to obey the “Move Over” law can result in fines of up to $1,000, plus points on your driving record.

Emergency personnel can only do so much to keep themselves safe when they pull over on the side of the road. The rest of the responsibility falls on other motorists. Remember, next time you see those flashing lights on the side of the road, slow down and, if safe to do so, Move Over. It’s the Law.


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Posted: November 07, 2022 10:09 PST by Sergeant Justin Graham

Updated: November 07, 2022 10:22 PST by Justin Graham


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