First responders and service professionals have one of the most dangerous work environments: the side of the roadway. Imagine a car whizzing by you, merely inches away as you work to save the lives of those injured in crashes, tow a car or simply help someone change a tire. Florida’s Move Over Law protects these men and women who provide critical services along Florida’s roadways.
The Move Over law states that drivers must move over a lane for stopped law enforcement, emergency and service vehicles — including sanitation vehicles, tow trucks and road rangers — that display any visible signals while stopped on the roadside. If you see flashing lights, move over. If you cannot safely move over a lane or are driving on a two-lane road, you must slow down to 20 miles per hour below the posted speed limit or to 5 mph if the speed limit is 20 mph or less.
Not only do violators face a fine, they put the lives of first responders and service professionals at risk. For the second consecutive year, Palm Beach County leads the state in move-over violations. In 2016 and 2017, more than 5,000 citations were written in Palm Beach County alone for failure to move over. This means there was an absolute minimum of 5,000 instances in which a motorist endangered the life of a first responder or service professional.
The Move Over law, enacted in 2002, was not in effect when many drivers took their license exams, and there is always the opportunity for driver education. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) urges you to heed the move-over message. Set the example for your family, friends and those driving around you. When you move over or slow down for emergency lights, you are prompting those behind you to follow suit. Show them that the simple act of moving over can save the lives of roadway professionals.
First responders and service professionals are there when you need them most. It is our responsibility as motorists to protect these brave men and women by moving over or slowing down for emergency lights. Help ensure that they get to go home safely to their families at the end of each workday. Move over or slow down so everyone can arrive alive.
TERRY L. RHODES, TALLAHASSEE
Editor’s note: Terry L. Rhodes is executive director of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.