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Move over, go slow, or get a ticket
Drivers need to use caution when approaching official vehicles on the roadside -- failure to do so may result in a fine or jail time.
Drivers approaching stopped emergency vehicles with flashing lights must slow down or move over, after the Move Over/Slow Down Law -- part of the Texas Transportation Code 545.157 -- was passed in 2003.
The law requires drivers to vacate the lane closest to the stopped emergency vehicle(s) if the road has multiple lanes flowing in the same direction, or slow down 20 mph under the posted speed limit. If the posted speed limit is less than 20 mph, the motorist must slow to 5 mph.
Violators of the law not only could receive a fine for the infraction, but cause serious injuries or death. From 2003 to 2012, 138 officers lost their lives due to being struck by a vehicle, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Fund. The San Antonio Police Department reported three related deaths since 1950 and numerous injuries, including one Aug. 25. The National Fire Protection Association reported 26 firefighters have been hit and killed by motorists while on the job between 1990 and 1999.
Whether aware of the law or not, citizens failing to move over or slow down appropriately could still receive a ticket resulting in a fine of up to $200. If property damage is incurred, the fine increases to $500, and violations resulting in bodily injury carry a Class B misdemeanor charge.
Jason Reyes, the public information officer for the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Highway Patrol, said drivers should be aware of the law.
“Safety is of the utmost importance to us and everyone,” Reyes said.
Vehicles included in the Move Over/Slow Down law are law enforcement, emergency medical services, fire trucks, and other emergency vehicles. Tow trucks were added to the list during the 2011 Legislative session, and Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) vehicles are included as of Sept. 1.
TxDOT, in conjunction with the DPS, through billboards and ads, is alerting drivers to the addition of TxDOT vehicles to the Move Over/Slow Down law, Reyes said.
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