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Save lives, move over

It’s a simple action a driver can easily take, and it makes the roads safer for all of us.

“The Move Over Law” goes by different names in different states, but the goal is the same: To offer a greater layer of protection to emergency response and service personnel who are answering calls along the roads.

Law enforcement officials in our region want to make sure motorists understand the importance of the laws, and that’s why the Ohio State Highway Patrol and the West Virginia and Pennsylvania state police once again have joined with the state police agencies in Indiana, Michigan and Kentucky for an education and enforcement campaign across their jurisdictions.

The program is part of the 6-State Trooper Project, and helps to remind drivers about matters of safety. Depending on the time of the year, the collaboration places emphasis on various aspects or highway safety, including the use of seat belts and the dangers of driving while intoxicated.

In general, move-over laws require drivers to move to an adjacent lane and slow down when approaching a stopped police vehicle, other emergency vehicle (like a fire truck), road service vehicle (like a tow truck), waste collection vehicle, highway maintenance vehicle or public utility commission vehicle when warning lights are activated. When weather or traffic conditions are hazardous, motorists don’t have to pull over — but they must slow down.

A look at statistics from Ohio shows the importance of following the law. Between 2015 and 2019, the patrol reported troopers were involved in 49 crashes that appear to be related to the Move Over law. Those accidents resulted in one civilian death and injuries to 49 officers and civilians.

During that same time, troopers wrote 23,429 Move Over violation citations. In our region, 116 were written in Jefferson County, 240 were written in Belmont County, 238 were written in Columbiana County, seven were written in Harrison County and none were written in Carroll County.

While the 6-State Trooper Project’s special emphasis on moving over began Sunday and will continue through Saturday, we hope all motorists will remember that taking that very simple action whenever they encounter an emergency vehicle can save lives.

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