ATLANTA (January 2008) – Move Over Georgia! It’s the law.. It’s a lifesaver.. And it’s common sense. But it comes with a hefty five-hundred-dollar-fine for any motorist who ignores it.
Police have been enforcing it here in Georgia since 2003.. And wherever you drive in 2008, forty states now have a law just like it. It’s called Georgia’s Move Over Law.
The Georgia Move-Over Law requires drivers to move-over one lane if possible whenever an emergency vehicle on the side of the road displays emergency lights. And if traffic is too congested to move-over safely, the law requires drivers to simply slow down, below the posted speed limit and be prepared to stop.
Without nationwide Move Over Laws, more than 150 law enforcement officers have been struck and killed by vehicles along America’s highways since 1997. This deadly decade demonstrates that each time an officer makes a traffic stop it’s one of the gravest dangers police can face on the road today.
The Move-Over Law was passed here after years of Georgia law enforcement officers suffering death or injury due to the deadly mistakes made by careless drivers as they speed by police at roadside traffic stops. The odds still swerve against them. Across the country in 2007, fifteen law enforcement officers were killed by passing motorists while conducting their daily patrol duties.
“The stakes are just too high,” said Director Bob Dallas of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS). “All too often our traffic enforcement officers will end their shifts talking about being ‘winged’ by passing cars during traffic stops. Each one of those “near misses” with a side view mirror is a brush with death that never makes the evening news.”
The 2007 National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) Fallen Heroes Report shows 2007 was the tenth consecutive year in which crashes and traffic-related incidents either equaled or exceeded gunfire as the leading cause of police officer deaths. From across the country, incident reports show emergency vehicles of all types have been struck while parked beside a highway, even while their red, yellow, blue or white emergency lights were flashing. Failure to Move Over has killer consequences.
“That’s why Georgia’s Move-Over Law was passed,” said GOHS Director Bob Dallas. “And that’s why it includes emergency vehicles operated by police officers, paramedics, firefighters, tow truck operators and highway maintenance and construction workers. Every one of these professional public servants is putting their lives at risk.”
The Move-Over Law is another good reason to slow down on Georgia’s highways and interstates,” said Director Dallas. “When the required clearance is given to a roadside emergency vehicle, the margin of safety is increased not only for public safety and emergency personnel, but for passing motorists and their passengers as well.“
“Because motorists like you and me are frequent victims too,” said Dallas. Georgia Department of Transportation data shows three-out-of-four DOT work zone fatalities are motorists or their passengers. During 2005 alone, sixty-one Georgians were killed in road construction work zone crashes. Nationally, a thousand motorists are killed every year in work zone crashes and another 40-thousand occupants are seriously injured.
To reduce the number of injuries and fatalities here, Georgia legislators allow local judges to set Move Over Law violation fines as high as five-hundred-dollars to help modify carless driver behavior. Penalties in some states range as high as a thousand dollars or more, with more states considering “Move Over” legislation like Georgia’s. And yet in 2007 police here still faced too many close calls, from too many distracted drivers.
“In fact, many officers tell us they observe drivers violate the Move-Over Law every time a police officer has to step out of the car to check a license or assist a motorist. Cops tell us it’s nerve racking when trucks and cars blow-by so close you have to hold onto your ticket book,” said GOHS Director Dallas. “Anyone who works alongside our highways is vulnerable, but police especially are in constant danger.”
As a result, many police agencies now routinely designate traffic enforcement units to work in pairs during patrols. While one officer is working traffic enforcement, a second officer cites drivers who fail to move-over or slow down. This proactive method of Move Over Law enforcement is resulting in more citations and more news coverage about Georgia’s lifesaving statute throughout the state.
“A five-hundred-dollar-fine for the first offense is a costly reminder,” said GOHS Director Dallas. “And as more local police departments are deploying these high-visibility enforcement measures to remind motorists about the Move Over Law, all anyone has to do to avoid the fine is use this common sense precaution behind the wheel.. Slow Down. Change Lanes. Save Lives.”