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Colorado’s ‘Move Over’ Law Just Got Tougher
A s we discussed last month, slow drivers in the fast lane can be frustrating and lead to dangerous passing situations that often create accidents. But as dangerous as slow left lane drivers can be, there is a more serious roadway issue involving Colorado’s “Move Over” law. In short, the penalties for ignoring this important law just got tougher. What is the Move Over law? If you’re not sure, you’re not alone. In fact, a national survey revealed that 71 percent of Americans have never heard of Move Over laws. The law has been around for some time, and it’s part of every state’s overall highway laws. In Colorado, the Move Over law was enacted in 2005. It has resulted in 417 convictions statewide over the past three years alone. The law’s purpose is to protect emergency personnel stopped alongside our busy roadways. The law has two critical components designed to save the lives of first responders and state patrol officers. First, the law requires that drivers approaching emergency vehicles move one lane over and away from emergency vehicles to allow for maximum clear space for personnel to respond. Second, the law also requires drivers to pull over to the right side of the road and stop when an emergency vehicle approaches with sirens or flashing lights, yielding until the emergency vehicle has passed. Imagine a Colorado state patrolman making a routine traffic stop. He or she pulls the violator over, exits the patrol car, and approaches the driver’s side door of the car ahead. As the officer approaches the other vehicle, an inattentive motorist traveling too fast in the right lane hits and kills the officer.
officer was hit and killed every month on our nation’s highways. In 2015, 52 law enforcement officers died as a result of traffic-related incidents, 11 of whom were killed while standing outside their own vehicle. Just last month, Governor Hickenlooper signed into law the “Move Over for Cody Act.” This legislation raises penalties against drivers who ignore the existing law protecting emergency personnel. The bill is named after a Colorado state patrolman, Cody Donahue, who was struck and killed by a semi while investigating an accident. The new penalties associated with ignoring the Move Over law include potential jail time (between 12 and 18 months) and fines of up to $100,000. If the violation results in death, it is now considered a class 6 felony. The new, more stringent, Move Over law goes into effect September 1 and should be a sobering reminder to slow down, move over, and allow emergency personnel to do their job in a safer environment.
~ Bryan VanMeveren
This isn’t a fictional scenario. This happens far too frequently on our roadways. Between 1993 and 2009, one
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