Slow Down, Move Over, And That Means All Of Us

Published 11:34 am Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The “slow down/move over” law is straightforward.

Simple to understand.

And it can save lives.

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Virginia law requires drivers to yield right-of-way or reduce speed when approaching stationary emergency vehicles on highways.

If you’re driving on US 460, for example, and a State Trooper has pulled someone for speeding or is helping a stranded motorist on the shoulder of the highway, safely move from the right to the left lane. Eliminate the chance of hitting the officer or the motorist. This is particularly crucial as the evenings come quicker following the departure of Daylight Saving Time and most of us will be driving home at dusk or in the dark.

Common sense tells us that but common sense is often a voice crying in our own wilderness, struggling to get our attention. Emergency personnel—law enforcement officers and rescue squad responders—have been struck and killed by motorists deaf to their own voice of reason.

The law, sadly, is needed.

And the law is this:

The driver of any motor vehicle approaching a stationary vehicle that is displaying a flashing, blinking or alternating blue, red or amber light, or lights on a highway having at least four lanes, at least two of which are intended for traffic proceeding as the approaching vehicle, shall proceed with caution and, if reasonable, with due regard for safety and traffic conditions, yield the right-of-way by making a lane change into a lane not adjacent to the stationary vehicle or, if changing lanes would be unreasonable or unsafe, proceed with due caution and maintain a safe speed for highway conditions.

That’s the law.

No, you don’t go suddenly veering into the left lane without looking. That only increases the danger. Look, yield, and shift lanes.

And the law applies to four-lane highways like US 460, not two-lane highways (remembering some two-laners have sections with four lanes). Don’t swerve on US 15 into oncoming traffic.

The law doesn’t require motorists to become reckless. It requires them to drive safely.

If you violate the law and damage property, the court can take your driver’s license for up to a year.

Injure someone and you can lose your license for up to two years.

Kill someone and you’ve got to live with that fact for the rest of your life. From that fate there is no appeal, no probation, no parole, and no escape.

So slow down.

Move over.

Doing so is also a very visible sign of respect and appreciation for our law enforcement officers and other emergency response personnel.

Changing lanes is a kind of salute, a tipping of the hat.

And who better to tip our cap to than the law enforcement officers and other emergency responders who serve us so well?