2011-12-28 / Editorial

Expansion of law will reduce number of tragedies

Bee Editorial

One year after it was put into effect, the Move Over law will be amended to improve safety on the highways across New York State.

As of Jan. 1, the law will include tow truck operators and other authorized personnel involved in roadside assistance or highway maintenance.

The law requires that, when possible, motorists must change lanes when they approach an incident where there is a vehicle with flashing red or amber lights. The new law adds the amber lights. When it is not possible to move over, or there is only one lane, drivers must slow down.

With the tragedy such as the accident that claimed the life of New York State Trooper Kevin Dobson in March, thoughts often turn to how the situation could have been prevented. In addition to Dobson’s death, the New York State Police have noted several other trooper deaths due to roadside accidents. A member of a highway crew was also killed while working on lane striping in Erie County.

As a result of the law, drivers who violate the Move Over law could be fined up to $275, plus a court surcharge of $85 and sentenced to up to 15 days in jail. The driver could also be assessed three points on his or her driving record.

This is a reminder to use the utmost caution while driving. Don’t speed past an emergency vehicle. Pay attention to where you are going. Do everything you can to minimize distraction.

No one enjoys being given a traffic citation, but when a member of law enforcement stops you to give you a ticket for speeding or some other violation, his or her motivation is to keep people safe — you as well as those around you. It may seem that we are emphasizing something everyone knows. Of course, it’s important not to be a distracted driver. Of course, we’re supposed to obey the posted speed limit and pay attention as we drive.

That may be true, but we probably all also know of times when we ignored these safety precautions for the convenience of a moment. Not every traffic accident is preventable, but many of them are.

The community was saddened by Dobson’s death, and we believe this law will help to prevent other people from being injured or killed in the line of duty.

We urge you to not let a sense of complacency allow you to make a mistake that irrevocably changes lives. Drive with caution, and be sure to move over. It’s not just a law; it’s a benefit for your safety and for everyone else on the highway.

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