Have you ever approached an intersection and heard a siren? Perhaps you have looked in your rearview mirror and saw flashing lights behind you. Chances are that you have passed an emergency worker or a law enforcement officer who pulled off the roadway with his or her lights flashing. You should be aware that in Florida the law requires that you move over, make way and slow down when approaching all emergency and law enforcement vehicles stopped on the roadway. The law, known as the Move Over Act, is designed to protect law enforcement officers, firefighters and other emergency workers from needless, accidental tragedy.
After 40 years in law enforcement and public safety, I have learned that driving, especially when responding to calls for service, is the most hazardous duty performed by law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency service professionals. Many fatalities and injuries to emergency service workers could have been avoided had the driver simply slowed down and moved over.
The Lady Lake Police Department strictly enforces the Move Over Law to help keep you and all public safety professionals safe. While on the roadway, please be alert, pay attention and remember the following:
- If an emergency vehicle is approaching from behind, put on your turn signal, yield to the right-of-way, slow down or pull over. Once the emergency vehicle has passed, use your turn signal and carefully re-enter the roadway.
- On a two-lane roadway, you are required to slow to a speed that is 20 miles per hour less than the posted speed limit. If the speed limit is 20 miles per hour or less, you must slow down to five miles per hour.
- If you are driving on an interstate or roadway with multiple lanes of travel in the same direction and you approach an emergency or law enforcement vehicle parked along the roadway, you must vacate the lane closest to that vehicle as soon as it is safe to do so.
- When arriving at an intersection where an emergency vehicle is approaching from the cross street, come to a complete stop and wait until all emergency vehicles have safely passed before continuing.
If you are a driver who violates the Move Over Law, you can be charged with a moving violation, which results in a fine and points on your license. More importantly, by violating this important law, you would be putting both yourself and a dedicated “first responder” at risk.
On behalf of the men and women of the Lady Lake Police Department, I urge you to help protect those who are sworn to serve and protect you. Always remember to make way, slow down and MOVE OVER when approaching an emergency or law enforcement vehicle – it’s the law.
Chris McKinstry is chief of police in Lady Lake.