By Glenn Collins
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 | 4:14 PM
Under the law, drivers must now safely move over and/or slow down when they come upon emergency or law enforcement vehicles or wreckers that are parked roadside or performing recovery.
On an interstate or other highway with two or more lanes in the driver's direction, the driver must vacate the lane closest to the vehicle or wrecker. If safety prohibits the lane change, the driver must slow down to 15 mph under the speed limit, or to 10 mph. For example, a driver on US278 in a four-lane expanse who is unable to change lanes must slow to 40 miles per hour when passing a trooper on the side of the road with his emergency lights flashing.
If driving on a two-lane road, a driver must stay in his lane and get as far away as possible from the vehicle or wrecker AND slow to 15 mph below the speed limit, or 10 mph if the speed limit is 25 mph or less. For example, a driver on 21st St. in Haleyville driving past HBTV would have to slow to 10 mph while passing a Haleyville Police cruiser on the side of the road with his emergency lights flashing.
Of course, drivers should take these actions when not directed to do something different by a law enforcement officer. For example, a driver might be directed by a law enforcement officer to stop or use the oncoming lane.
Col. J. Christopher Murphy, Director of the Alabama Department of Public Safety said "The roadside is a trooper's office and to do our jobs, we must work in close proximity to traffic. This law provides all first responders and emergency workers the safe clearance they need." The six-month warning and educational period for the new law concludes January 31. Citations for violations will carry a fine of up to $25 for the first offense and increasing fines for second and subsequent offenses.
Alabama first enacted "move over" laws in 2006. According to the National Law Enforcement Officers' Memorial Fund, 12 law enforcement officers were struck and killed by automobiles while outside their vehicles in 2009. For more information, visit the Alabama Department of Public Safety.