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Even when the wind is howling, the snow is blowing and the temperature is falling, law enforcement officers, tow truck operators and emergency responders are busy working day and night on the side of highways to rescue motorists and remove vehicles that have slid off icy roads or skidded into other vehicles. Although severe winter weather conditions test their resolve, the greatest danger these workers face is being hit by vehicles traveling at high speeds just a few feet away.
To protect law enforcement officers, tow truck operators, emergency responders, road maintenance workers, and others who work on the side of roadways, Wisconsin has a Move Over Law. This state law requires drivers to shift lanes if possible or slow down in order to create a safety zone for a law enforcement vehicle, ambulance, fire truck, tow truck or highway maintenance vehicle that is stopped on the side of a road with its warning lights flashing.
“To create a safety zone on interstate highways and other divided roads with multiple directional lanes, you must move over to vacate the lane closest to the law enforcement or other emergency vehicle if you can safely switch lanes,” says Wisconsin State Patrol Captain Jeff Frenette of the Northwest Region. “If the road has a single directional lane or you can’t safely move over because of traffic, you must reduce your speed until safely past the vehicle.”
Violating the Move Over Law can be expensive as well as dangerous. A citation costs $263.50 with three demerit points added to your license.
“Law enforcement officers are well trained and equipped to protect themselves. But their only defense against being hit by a vehicle is in the hands of the driver. Failure of motorists to create a safety zone by moving over or slowing down is one of the major reasons that motor vehicle crashes kill more law enforcement officers on duty than any other cause. Tow truck operators, highway maintenance workers and emergency responders also are killed and injured when drivers don’t move over or slow down,” says Captain Frenette “By obeying the Move Over Law, drivers can protect themselves, their passengers, our officers and others who work on highways from needless injuries and deaths.”