Every motorist can identify when there are lights flashing ahead of them on the roadway. What many may not consider is moving into the adjacent lane before passing the vehicle with its lights engaged.
That is why many agencies are trying to raise awareness of Tennessee’s “Move Over Law.”
The “Move Over Law,” which passed in 2006, requires motorists to move over into the adjacent lane of traffic, when safe to do so, or alternatively to slow down for emergency vehicles. In 2011, the law was expanded to include utility service equipment to the list of vehicles for which motorists are required to either slow down or move over.
Wilson County Sheriff Robert Bryan said there needs to be more information regarding the law given to the public.
“You’ve got cars going up and down the interstate at 75 or 80 miles an hour. When someone is stopped on the side of the road, you should move over.
“We’ve had officers here recently and in the past killed for people not getting over. There just needs to be more awareness.”
Lebanon Police Chief Scott Bowen added, “Unfortunately, sometimes it does take somebody’s death to bring attention to it.”
Both Bryan and Bowen expressed their concern that motorists need to be aware of their surroundings when driving.
“If you see flashing lights of any kind, that’s a signal to start slowing down to see what’s going on,” said Bowen.
He also noted that officers cannot always pay attention to what the drivers on the road are doing if they are conducting a traffic stop.
“You’re trying your best to focus on what’s going on in that vehicle at that time, so it’s not like you’re just paying attention to the people that are passing. You’re trying to do your job and be safe,” said Bowen.
Bryan said he encourages everybody to do their best to move over.
“I encourage everybody, if you see an officer that has a vehicle pulled over, or a car on the side of the road, move over or at least slow down,” said Bryan.
There is a penalty of a maximum fine of up to $500 and possibly up to 30 days in jail for violating the “Move Over Law” in Tennessee.
“We understand that in some cases you can’t, but if you have the opportunity to you need to get in the other lane,” Bowen said.