“Move over, slow down” law can save many lives

Ron Craig, Crime Prevention/Community Policing Officer

        Ohio’s “move over, slow down” law has evolved over the past few years, having been amended no less than four times since 2014. The law now requires drivers to move over or slow down any time they approach any vehicle with flashing lights along the side of the roadway.
        Ohio Revised Code section 4511.213 states drivers who approach vehicles with flashing lights along multi-lane roadways should shift over to the left lane when it is safely possible. If moving over is not safely possible, or if you are not on a multi-lane road, the driver should slow down to a safe speed, keeping in mind the road conditions at the time.
        Better yet, do both—move over and slow down when you approach a vehicle on the side of the road.
        The law was initially passed to increase the safety of law enforcement personnel, firefighters, and EMS personnel who render aid to people who are in cars along the roadways. As studies showed the high number of road construction workers who were being killed and seriously injured was increasing, the law changed to include those workers as well.
        Road service personnel, including tow truck drivers, also grew increasingly uncomfortable working along the roads, and sometimes actually in the road, as traffic whizzed by them at unsafe speeds and at distances that were too close. They, too, saw a rise in the numbers of workers who were killed and injured.
        Now that the law stipulates drivers are to move over or slow down for any vehicle with flashing lights, remember this includes garbage collection trucks and disabled vehicles along the edge of the roadway.
        While Ohio law primarily addressed the issues along state and interstate highways, moving over and slowing down on other roadways is no less important.
        One of our township police officers recently told me of an experience in which someone drove much too fast and much too close as that officer was standing along the roadway on a traffic stop. That officer was pushed away by the wind turbulence from the passing vehicle.
        As we consider wind turbulence from a passing vehicle, think of being in a boat moving quickly in the water. The movement of the water behind the boat is considered its “wake.” The same applies to wind from passing vehicles.
        If you have ever been parked on the edge of the road, you have felt your vehicle move as other vehicles, including semi trucks and trailers, pass by. If that wind turbulence is strong enough to rock a heavy vehicle, think of how it makes your body move as you stand in the same place.
        Drivers who fail to obey the law face big fines. In fact, due to the seriousness of the violation, fines are doubled for the offense. A first-time violator faces a total fine of $300, and someone who has violated the law twice in a year faces a total fine of $500. A third-time offender in a year gets a $1,000 total fine. These fines do not include court costs.
        As you approach a vehicle along the side of the road, put yourself standing there. Feel the wind turbulence pushing you and you will see why safety is so important to those standing and working on the roadside.
        This article is a public service from the Crime Prevention Division of the Lake Township Police Department. Township residents may obtain further information on crime prevention and public safety topics by contacting Ron Craig, crime prevention specialist/community policing officer, at 419-481-6354.


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