How often have you seen an ambulance, fire truck or police car responding to a call for help with its lights and sirens activated? How often have you seen that vehicle struggle to get by a motorist who didn’t move over?
Many motorists either simply don’t understand North Carolina’s Move Over Law. The law was written in 2006 and recently toughened to protect law enforcement, emergency and fire department personnel as well as other public personnel when they respond to emergencies.
The Move Over Law requires motorists to move over into another lane, when possible, if a law enforcement, fire department, public or private ambulance, or other public service vehicle is on the road. If moving into an adjacent lane isn’t possible due to traffic or traveling on a two-lane road, motorists are required to slow down and be prepared to stop.
Violators could face a fine of $250 or be charged with a misdemeanor for property damage of more than $500 or causing an injury to a responder. If a serious injury or death occurs to a responder, it could result a Class I felony.
“The whole purpose of the law is to provide a ‘safe zone’ for emergency responders to work in, especially when they are stationary at the scene of an accident,” said Bladen County Sheriff Steve Bunn. “Sometimes the public is in just too big of a hurry to move over.”
Bunn said he was unaware of any accidents that have taken place since the adoption of the Move Over Law.
White Lake Fire Chief Dale Brennan said he still encounters people who refuse to move over. Some people move over partially, but not completely.
“People will get half off the road and half on the roadway and that’s more dangerous than not moving at all,” said Brennan.
Motorists need to understand that when an emergency vehicle comes up behind you with the lights and siren turned on, the emergency responder is responding to a call and the motorist is required by law to yield the right of way to the emergency vehicle, said Bunn.
“In most cases, someone is need of assistance and the longer it takes for them to get there, the more serious the situation could become,” said Bunn.
Brennan has a question for those that don’t move over and yield.
“If it was your loved one laying on that stretcher in the back of that ambulance, how would you feel?” asked Brennan.
It is frustrating to fire departments especially when they are responding to accidents and fire calls.
“You don’t know if getting there sooner, you might have changed the outcome,” said Brennan
Bunn urges motorists to yield the right of way and to move over when they see emergency responders working at an accident or fire scene.
“Give the emergency responders some room to do their job safely without having to worry about getting run over from behind by some passing motorist,” said Bunn.