SHELBY TOWNSHIP — An update to the state’s Move Over Law went into effect last month with the goal of better protecting those who work on the side of the road during emergency situations.
The Move Over Law requires motorists to slow down and move over for stationary emergency vehicles with their lights activated.
As of Feb. 13, the update went into effect to include new vehicles and guidelines regarding what should be done in different situations.
According to a newsletter send out by the Michigan State Police, the law was amended to require that when approaching a stationary emergency vehicle with its emergency lights activated, motorists must carefully slow down to at least 10 mph below the posted speed limit and move over into an open lane, if possible.
The new emergency vehicles that were added to the list were maintenance vehicles, utility service vehicles and solid waste haulers.
“The law has been in effect for a while; however, (it) was just recently amended to include more vehicles. The law says that you must move over for emergency vehicles on the side of the road. If you cannot safely move over, then you must slow down,” said Renee Yax, the public information officer for the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office, via email.
She said that it was put in place to keep emergency personnel and drivers safe on the roads.
“From a Sheriff’s Office standpoint, it not only keeps deputies safe, but also keeps other emergency workers and drivers safe. Having a law that requires vehicles to slow down or move over protects deputies and other emergency workers by allowing them the space needed to do their job safely. The shoulder does not provide any additional area, so that extra lane can provide the space needed to effectively get the job done. Not only are the vehicles traveling so close a danger, but the debris kicked up can also be a danger,” Yax said.
Shelby Township Police Chief Robert Shelide said that he is happy about the update to the law.
“I am very pleased with the new law. It is very dangerous for emergency workers to be on the side of a road with cars buzzing by. And we all know that many are flying by with their cellphones in their hand and are distracted. There is not a month that goes by that I don’t read about a police officer getting run over and killed on the side of a road in the United States. If anything, I hope the law is strictly enforced and that it deters persons from buzzing by our emergency workers,” said Shelide via email.
Previously, the Move Over Law’s penalty for a person who violated it was a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than $500 or imprisonment for not more than 90 days, or both. Under the new law, a violation is a civil infraction, and violators are ordered to pay a $400 civil fine. The number of points assigned to a violator’s driving record is reduced from four points under the previous law to two points under the amended law.
Under the Michigan Vehicle Code, a person who fails to move over and injures an emergency worker is guilty of a felony punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000 or imprisonment for not more than two years, or both. If a person violates the law and kills an emergency worker, the motorist is guilty of a felony punishable by a fine of not more than $7,500 or by imprisonment for not more than 15 years, or both.
“A few years ago, one of our then sergeants, Jeffrey Bellomo, was on a traffic stop, and he was nearly killed,” Shelide said.
Yax said the Sheriff’s Office would like to remind drivers that slowing down is always a good idea for both drivers and workers.
“The sheriff would like to remind drivers to please be courteous; move over or slow down for any vehicle you see on the side of the roadway. It will keep both your vehicle and the other vehicle safe,” Yax said.
The amended law can be viewed at legislature.mi.gov.