JACKSON COUNTY, Miss. (WLOX) - Twelve years ago, lawmakers enacted the “Move Over Law.” It’s essentially to protect first responders and those pulled over on the shoulder of the interstate or any road.
After three Gulfport officers were struck by a vehicle while working an accident on I-10 Wednesday morning, the “Move Over Law” is on the minds of first responders, who emphasize that it is a law and breaking it can be deadly.
The law says drivers are supposed to proceed with caution when approaching a “stationary authorized emergency vehicle” either on a highway or any road. That includes law enforcement, fire trucks, ambulances, tow trucks, MDOT crews, utility service vehicles, sanitation trucks and even mail trucks. It also includes pedestrian vehicles on the side of the road.
The law, Senate Bill 2305, reads that drivers are required to yield the right of way by making a lane change or reduce the speed if you cannot change lanes.
Mississippi Highway Patrol Trooper Cal Robertson said many drivers aren’t aware of the law.
“Generally, they do not (move over) but a lot of people will," he said. "The number of people in the public that aren’t aware of this law is alarming. I see it every day when I’m out at work. People don’t move over. They can move over - there’s nobody next to them - and they fail to do that. And our lives are literally put on the line because they’re not moving over.”
So what are drivers supposed to do? Robertson said move over.
“If you come across law enforcement stopped on the right shoulder, law requires you to move to the left lane, move over one lane to the left. Or if they’re on the left shoulder you’re supposed to move one lane to the right if you’re on a multi-lane highway," he said.
Violators may be fined up to $250 for failing to comply and up to $1,000 if there is damage to the official vehicle or injury to any driver or passenger of an official vehicle.
One of the three Gulfport officers struck this week was treated at the scene and released. Two others were taken to the hospital. All three are expected to recover.