LEWISTON — Idaho’s Move Over law that says drivers must slow down and move over for law enforcement vehicles with flashing lights has now been expanded to include all emergency responders, such as tow trucks and Idaho Department of Transportation vehicles.
Officers for Nez Perce County, Idaho State Police and the transportation department were on hand Tuesday at the Lewiston Port of Entry on U.S. Highway 95/12 to emphasize the need for drivers to be aware of all highway incident vehicles, for which they should move over and slow down.
“This law is covering safety,” said Kyle Morgan with the transportation department. “Before this law was just covering (law enforcement and fire department vehicles). Now it’s covering all highway vehicles (with flashing lights).
The Move Over law took effect in 2006, but was expanded earlier this year to include all highway incident vehicles. Megan Sausser of the transportation department said one group in particular that needed the extra protection is tow truck drivers.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, 33 tow truck drivers were killed in 2014 while trying to rescue stranded drivers.
Morgan added that people often do not realize they need to also give the same consideration to transportation department vehicles who may be assisting with a highway accident.
Trooper Tauna Tyler said the situation has become dangerous, especially with more people driving while distracted by various causes.
“We see a lot of things (that cause accidents) and lights and cones can only do so much for us,” Tyler said. “They make us a little bit more visible but they don’t necessarily protect us. So expansion of the Move Over law, the emphasis is, we’re raising a little bit more awareness about how important it is for people to slow down and move over in order to protect emergency personnel.”
Sausser said the law is still fuzzy about whether it includes snowplows, but drivers are cautioned not to try to pass a snowplow while it is working because of drastically reduced visibility.
Tyler said the state police want people to reduce distractions while they’re behind the wheel and to be especially aware of emergency vehicles during the winter months.
“Because inattention is what we see causes most crashes,” Tyler said. “Somebody looks down to push a button on their dash or look at their phones. The phone is probably one of the worst things. What we get a lot is, people are trying to change the music on the phone.
“So we just ask that people who are going to be playing music on their phone, that they’re not touching their phone while driving. We want to make sure that people are aware that manipulation of any sort of device of anything in your vehicle, other than driving, can be dangerous.”
Kathy Hedberg may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (208) 983-2326.