FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – If you are driving on a multi-lane road and spot an emergency vehicle stopped with their lights on, do you change lanes or slow down when passing?
If not, you could be breaking state laws.
“Move Over” laws are meant to protect emergency responders or roadside crews as they work along the road. Like other states, Indiana has their own version that protects emergency and highway personnel.
By law, drivers should change lanes if they can do so safely. If that is not possible, they should reduce their speed by 10 miles per hour and proceed with caution. Drivers should not come to a complete stop.
Despite the laws in effect, many drivers do not know they exist.
A national study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 23% of those surveyed were not aware of their state’s “Move Over” law. 15% of those surveyed did not understand the potential consequences for violating the “Move Over” law.
The lack of awareness comes as about 24 emergency responders, including tow providers, are struck and killed by vehicles while working at the roadside every year.
In the past year, Indiana State Police have caught hundreds of commuters violating the “Move Over” law. According to ISP Public Information Officer Sgt. Brian Walker, 542 tickets were issued to drivers who violated the state’s Move Over law, along with an additional 1,463 warnings from Oct. 5, 2020 to Oct. 5, 2021.
Those who violate this law could face fines or even have their license suspended if they cause damage to emergency equipment, injury or death to an emergency worker.
Aside from following the law, Sgt. Walker says drivers should be courteous whenever they spot a vehicle pulled over along the side of the road.
“We have this law because we’ve had so many incidents of crashes on the side of our roads with our workers that are trying to do their job – to make the roads safer – through enforcement efforts or construction efforts.” Sgt. Walker said. “Having a common courtesy alone just to slow down, move over, whatever you can do to make the roads safer is expected. But we have the law in place for a reason, so that’s why we’re out there enforcing it.”
WANE 15’s Josh Ayen watched alongside ISP troopers at various points along I-69 on Wednesday morning to monitor for any Move Over law violations. Watch below as most commuters adhered to those guidelines.