On January 1, 2011 the Move Over Act was made the law of New York State. Although the statute has been in effect since January 1, 2011, many motorists are unaware of its existence. The Act requires that motorists who observe emergency vehicles with their lights flashing on the side of a highway must reduce their speed and drive with “due care.” If the driver is on a highway with multiple lanes, he or she must pull the vehicle one lane to the left to avoid the possibility of endangering the safety of the emergency personnel.
For those of you not aware of the Move Over Act, beware, for it has now been expanded to include tow trucks and maintenance vehicles with flashing amber lights, as well as other vehicles assisting motorists at the side of the roadway.
The Act was instituted in response to several cases over the last ten years in which emergency personnel and police officers were either killed or suffered severe injuries due to motorists following too closely or too fast in proximity to responding emergency personnel or officers. The official title of the statute is the Ambrose-Searles Move Over Act, named after New York State Trooper Robert W. Ambrose and Onondaga County Sheriff Glenn M. Searles who were killed in the line of duty while they were responding to emergencies on the roadway. In the case of Trooper Searles, this occurred in nearby Yonkers, New York when Ambrose was struck and killed by a motorist while preparing an accident report on the New York State Thruway.
More recently, in November of 2011, a tow truck operator was struck by a passing vehicle and killed while he was assisting a disabled vehicle near Syracuse, New York. Undoubtedly, this tragic fatal car accident was an impetus for the expansion of the scope of the regulation. Two weeks ago, in Peekskill, New York a motorist was charged with a violation of the law and other traffic infractions when his vehicle struck and injured a Westchester County police officer who was involved in a traffic stop on Route 9 in Croton on Hudson.
According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, since 1999, more than 160 law enforcement officials have been killed as a result of being struck while assisting in roadway incidents. A violation of the Move Over Act results in a $275.00 fine and a two point assessment on the motorists’ driver’s license.