Move Over Act Requires Drivers On The Road To Make Room For Ambulances, Police Cars And Other Emergency Vehicles

Hoping to protect emergency responders on highways from themselves becoming involved in a motor vehicle accident, effective January 1, 2011, a new law in New York State, the Ambrose-Searles Move Over Act requires drivers to exercise due care to avoid colliding with an authorized emergency vehicle which is parked, stopped or standing on the shoulder of a road or highway with its emergency lights activated. Drivers must reduce speed on all roads when encountering such vehicles. Importantly, on parkways, interstates, and other controlled access highways with multiple lanes, drivers are further required to move from the lane immediately adjacent to the emergency vehicle, unless traffic or other hazards exist to prevent doing so safely. Unfortunately, last night provided a vivid example of the importance of the new law. A veteran Nassau County police officer died early Saturday after a flatbed truck slammed into the rear of the stopped patrol car of Nassau County Police Officer Michael J. Califano on the Long Island Expressway in Old Westbury. Officer Califano had pulled over a box truck in the westbound lanes near Exit 39 for insufficient lighting at 10:55 P.M. yesterday. The flatbed crashed into the rear of the police cruiser while the officer was inside it, sending the police car under the box truck. The force of the crash then knocked the box truck into traffic, and the flatbed ended up atop the police car. It took rescuers 30 minutes to remove the roof of the police car and free Officer Califano. Charges lodged against the driver of the flatbed truck include failing to obey the Move Over Law by failing to move over for an emergency vehicle. He was also charged with one count of criminally negligent homicide, three counts of assault. According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, since 1999, there have been more than one-hundred-sixty (160) law enforcement officers killed in the United States, struck by vehicles while performing police duties along America’s highways. Move over laws have been enacted in most states nationwide in order to prevent these tragedies. A violation of the law is a punishable by a fine of up to $275, plus mandatory court surcharges. It will also result in two points on the driver’s license record. The law is named in honor of New York State Trooper Robert W. Ambrose and Onondaga County Sheriff Glenn M. Searles, who was killed in the line of duty while their patrol vehicles were stopped on the side of the road. The law is codified in section 1144-a of the Vehicle and Traffic Law, which reads: 1144-a. Operation of vehicles when approaching a parked, stopped or standing authorized emergency vehicle. Every operator of a motor vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with an authorized emergency vehicle which is parked, stopped or standing on the shoulder or any portion of such highway and such authorized emergency vehicle is displaying one or more red or combination red and white lights pursuant to the provisions of paragraph two of subdivision forty-one of section three hundred seventy-five of this chapter. For operators of motor vehicles on parkways or controlled access highways, such due care shall include, but not be limited to, moving from a lane which contains or is immediately adjacent to the shoulder where such authorized emergency vehicle displaying one or more red or combination red and white lights pursuant to the provisions of paragraph two of subdivision forty-one of section three hundred seventy-five of this chapter is parked, stopped or standing to another lane, provided that such movement otherwise complies with the requirements of this chapter including, but not limited to, the provisions of sections eleven hundred ten of this title and eleven hundred twenty-eight of this title.

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