Moving Over for Emergency Vehicles Could Save Lives

Texas law requires drivers to move over or slow down when passing stopped emergency vehicle

By Mola Lenghi
|  Wednesday, May 16, 2012  |  Updated 8:22 PM CDT
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Emergency personnel stand in harm's way on the side of Texas roads and highways, but the Move Over Law is aimed at keeping them safe, the fine for not moving over can reach up to $215.

Mola Lenghi, NBC 5 Arlington Reporter

Emergency personnel stand in harm's way on the side of Texas roads and highways, but the Move Over Law is aimed at keeping them safe, the fine for not moving over can reach up to $215.

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Arlington police are reminding drivers to move over when they see an emergency vehicle stopped in the shoulder of a road.

Texas law requires drivers to change lanes before passing such an emergency vehicle or reduce their speed by 20 mph below the posted speed limit.

The law is designed to protect first responders and tow truck drivers with their lights on in the shoulder lane.

"Throughout the state and even the country, we know that first responders are struck every year, some killed, because someone is trying to pass them or driving too close to them and they strike the emergency vehicle," Sgt. Christopher Cook said.

A passer-by struck Neil Knueson and his wife last week when he was trying to hitch a car onto his tow truck on State Highway 360. His wife sustained a shattered elbow and an eye contusion, and he was left with some broken ribs.

"Each time I pick up something on I-20, [Interstate] 30, [Highway] 360, [Interstate] 161 and I'm on the side of the road, there's cars whizzing by me doing 75, 80 mph no more than three feet from my legs," Knueson said. "When you're laying underneath a car and you don't know, all you can do is hope that someone isn't on the phone or texting and they don't drift over that four feet and hit that car I'm underneath and kill me and everyone around."

"Cars are traveling at high speeds, and even if you're traveling the speed limit, an impact with a stationary vehicle -- for example, if you're traveling at 60 mph -- is going to do significant damage, and if an officer or a tow-truck operator or a fire official is in the vehicle, you can imagine the injuries," Cook said.

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