'Move over law': Raising awareness about highway safety

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- Move over! That's the message from the Arizona Department of Transportation and the Department of Public Safety to try and keep stranded motorists safe along the highways.

As Javier Soto found out on Good Morning Arizona Monday, ADOT, DPS and other agencies raising awareness about our state's "Move Over" law to protect emergency responders, highway crews and stranded motorists.

Every day, emergency and public safety crews put their lives on the line to help motorists stranded along highways. Tragically, crashes involving emergency and other vehicles that are pulled over along highway shoulders claim hundreds of lives across the country each year.

That's why a statewide campaign was launched Friday to raise awareness about Arizona's "Move Over" law. The Arizona Department of Transportation, along with the Department of Public Safety and several key partners hope the "Move Over, AZ" campaign will prevent the type of roadside crashes that, although preventable, result in hundreds of deaths and injuries across the country every year.

Monday, Javier Soto staged a demonstration at Phoenix International Raceway to show just how forceful a passing car can be to someone on the side of the road.

"It's very scary," says Gary Cooley of Barnett's Towing. "You have a very limited amount of space to work with, while we're trying to get the motoring public safely home, and off the road. And you don't have much room."

One tow truck driver is killed about every six days and an average of one law enforcement officer and 23 highway workers are killed every month by drivers who don't move over or slow down. Emergency responders, roadside assistance providers and stranded motorists also are at risk.

"There's a tow truck driver killed every week somewhere in the United States, and it's a sad thing," says Cooley, who has himself been hit on the roadside by a passing vehicle. "If people would just move over a little bit and give them a break."

Similar to Move Over laws in other states, Arizona's law requires all drivers to move over one lane, or slow down and use caution if changing lanes is not possible, when traveling past any vehicle with flashing lights that is pulled to the side of the roadway.

Along with ADOT, the "Move Over, AZ" campaign partners include the Arizona Department of Public Safety, the Arizona Governor's Office of Highway Safety, AAA of Arizona, the Arizona Professional Towing & Recovery Association, the Phoenix Fire Department, Rural/Metro and Southwest Ambulance.

The public awareness campaign will include "Move Over Mondays" during March, when DPS officers will enhance enforcement of the law on interstates and highways statewide. Drivers observed in violation of the Move Over law can be cited and required to pay a fine.

The Move Over campaign has its own website, which includes a video featuring Kayla Gault, whose father, tow-truck driver Jesse S. Gault, was killed along with a stranded motorist when a vehicle struck them along Loop 202 in Mesa in 2008.

Arizona's Move Over law took effect in 2005 to protect law enforcement officers and emergency responders assisting the public. It was enhanced in July 2011 to include all vehicles pulled over with flashing lights.