Police conducting Move Over Law patrols

From Local Sources

Indiana State Police are conducting Move Over Law special patrols this week as part of a six-state, joint-enforcement project.

In 1999, Indiana was the first state in the nation to pass a law requiring motorists to move to an adjacent traffic lane or reduce speed by 10 mph below the posted speed limit if unable to change lanes safely when driving by a stationary police, fire or ambulance emergency vehicle stopped along the side of the road.

Over the years Indiana’s law has expanded to include stationary recovery, utility service, solid waste haulers, road, street highway maintenance vehicles, as well as a stationary survey or construction vehicles when displaying alternately flashing amber lights.

Indiana’s law was originally crafted and passed as the result of the death of Indiana State Police Trooper Andrew Winzenread who was killed in April of 1997 while assisting a stranded motorist on I-74 in Dearborn County. Now, in 2019, every state with the exception of Hawaii has some form of a move-over law. 

“But,” says Capt. David R. Bursten, the chief public information officer for the Indiana State Police, “we all know laws are only effective when followed.

In the last three years, Indiana has averaged 421 property damage crashes involving parked police vehicles and 14 crashes with injury.

“In Indiana we still have too many emergency vehicles being struck by inattentive or distracted motorists,” Bursten said. “And in neighboring Illinois, three state troopers have been struck and killed since the beginning of 2019.”

As part of a joint “Move Over Law” traffic enforcement project, Bursten says Indiana “is working with our ‘Six State Trooper’ law enforcement partners in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia during the week of April 14 through April 20.”

During this week, motorists can expect to see additional patrols looking for distracted-driving violations that often lead to motorists failing to move over when they approach an emergency vehicle stopped roadside or at a crash scene. Some violations associated with driving while distracted include speeding, following too close, drifting from lane to lane and failing to signal turns or lane changes.

Bursten says it is not the goal of the Indiana State Police to simply write tickets.

“We encourage and desire voluntary compliance with traffic laws to ensure the safety of the public as well as the safety of public safety professionals,” Bursten said. “Our historical enforcement of the move over law reveals about 50% of persons stopped for this violation receive a written warning, but citations are issued for particularly egregious violations of the law.”

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