In 1999 Indiana become the first state to pass a Move Over Law. This requires drivers to safely move into the next lane if they’re passing emergency vehicles on a two lane highway.
Emergency vehicles are described as a, “vehicle giving audible signal by siren or displaying alternately flashing red, red and white, or red and blue lights.” The law also includes, “stationary recovery vehicle, a stationary utility service vehicle,” and “stationary solid waste haulers, a stationary road, street, or highway maintenance vehicle, or a stationary survey or construction vehicle.”
April 14th through the 20th, Indiana State Police will be part of a multi-state Move Over Law traffic enforcement project. ISP says it’s not about writing tickets, but about saving lives.
“I remember stopping for coffee with another trooper in the morning. I remember putting my key into the door to unlock the door. And then I remember being in the hospital that afternoon,” says Master Trooper Wes Rowlader.
Master Trooper Rowlader doesn’t remember anything else on the morning on July 25th, 2005. He had pulled a driver over on I-69, two miles south US 6 interchange.
“A vehicle ran into the back of my car at 70 mph. Hit my car in the rear, pushed my car into the vehicle in front of me, and knocked my car upside down into the ditch,” says Master Trooper Rowlader.
Pictures and other people’s memories fill in the gaps for him.
“My wife was 7 months pregnant, 8 months pregnant at the time, and I had a two-year-old son. And I remember them coming into the hospital room, but I didn’t know who they were. I knew I should know who they were, but I just started breaking down crying because I couldn’t figure out who they were.”
He’s lucky he walked away with only a concussion, and bumps and bruises. He was in his car when he was hit.
“If I was, specially between the cars, if I was behind my car, if that would have been a broke-down car I was helping do a tire change, I probably wouldn’t be here talking with you.”
That’s why the Indiana State Police are reminding drivers the Move Over Law is life-saving.
“It’s a very simple law…but people still don’t do it. Whether they’re distracted, they don’t know, you know there’s a lot of different excuses and reasons why people say they don’t, when we do traffic stops for that reason. But it’s so important. So, simple, but so important.”
The law states you need to move over to another lane any time there is an emergency vehicle stopped with flashing lights, on a highway with two or more lanes. If you cannot move over, you must slow down at least 10 miles an hour below the posted speed limit.
“If you’re in doubt, and lights are flashing, get out of the way. If you see a vehicle on the side of the road even if you don’t see lights or anything, get out of the way. It doesn’t take but a second to get into the next lane and move back over if you’ve passed,” says Sgt. Ron Galaviz, Public Information Officer with ISP.
If you do not move over for police, fire, or ambulances, you could face up to a $10,000 fine. Beyond the fine, moving over could save a life.
ISP says since the start of this year they’ve issued 144 tickets statewide for Move Over Law violations. They issued 664 in 2018.
In total since the start of the year, 10 ISP officers have been struck while stopped performing a duty.
ISP says there have been 124 crashes with 9 injuries since the start of the year, this includes all Indiana police agencies.