LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Texas law enforcement is cracking down on “move over or slow down” violations. Originally passed in 2003, the law requires drivers to slow down or move out of lanes next to emergency vehicles for everyone’s safety.
High stress is a normal part of life for first responders, but working in traffic can make their jobs more stressful than usual.
“We do our best to watch for traffic and keep an eye on what’s going on in the lanes around us, but while we’re trying to get somebody out of a car or work on hurt and sick people, you can’t do two things at once,” said Wade Modisette with the Lufkin Fire Department.
This stress is shared by others who help in traffic accidents while cars whiz by.
“It makes your stress level real high," said Kevin Johnson of Atkinson Towing and Recovery. "You have to contend with them, watch them, and pay attention to what you’re doing.”
To protect these people, the Texas Department of Public Safety has planned several enforcement operations this month where they will be cracking down on violations of the “move over or slow down” law.
“What that requires is motorists that are traveling in the same direction as the emergency vehicle, that they vacate the lane closest to that vehicle, and if they cannot, they have to slow down 20 miles an hour below what the posted speed limit is,” said David Hendry with the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Ignoring this law poses a danger to first responders, and it can also result in serious consequences for offenders.
“It’s a Class C misdemeanor. It’s a fine punishable up to two hundred dollars," Hendry said. "If you’re involved with a crash as a result from that, it can be up to a five hundred dollar fine, and if there’s injury, it can be a Class B misdemeanor with a fine up to two thousand dollars and possible jail time.”
DPS officials say that these penalties are easy to avoid. Simply move over or slow down.
“You know, those first responders are out there trying to clear those scenes - to move those hazardous situations off the roadway," Hendry said. "That allows them a little bit more room to be able to do that.”
DPS officials say that from January through October 2018, more than 35,000 warnings and citations were issued to motorists violating the “move over or slow down” law.