Speeding past emergency vehicles is an everyday occurrence on the nation's highways, even though every state has a “move over” law that requires drivers to slow down or switch lanes when emergency vehicles are on the scene, reports Stateline. Failing to heed the laws can result in fines and serious criminal charges if someone is killed. Despite the laws, safety experts say many drivers remain ignorant of them and that states need to do a better job of educating motorists about what's at stake.
All 50 states have move over laws aimed at protecting police and emergency rescue workers. If a police car, fire engine or ambulance is parked on the road or shoulder and displays flashing lights, motorists generally must either move to the next lane if it's safe, or slow to a safe speed. Since 2010, state legislatures have approved 44 new measures enacting or improving move over laws. Experts estimate that on average, six to eight fire rescue and EMS workers are killed working in or near moving traffic each year, as are 10 to 12 police officers. The institute says that about 50 tow operators are killed. It doesn't break out how many of those cases involve victims who were struck because of move over violations.