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Move over for emergency vehicles

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Question: My neighbor says that the move over law now applies to any vehicle that is stopped or parked on the side of any road. Is this really true or does it still apply only to police vehicles?

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Answer: No, that is not true, and the law does apply to more than just "police" vehicles. Cut this article out and show it to all your friends and relatives. I still meet people who say they never heard of such a law.

Even in the little show box I live in I get some information from outside world so I find it hard to believe so many claim to have never heard about this law. This is covered by statute 169.18 sb 11 which in part states, "(a) When approaching and before passing an authorized emergency vehicle with its emergency lights activated that is parked or otherwise stopped on or next to a street or highway having two lanes in the same direction, the driver of a vehicle shall safely move the vehicle to the lane farthest away from the emergency vehicle, if it is possible to do so. (b) When approaching and before passing an authorized emergency vehicle with its emergency lights activated that is parked or otherwise stopped on or next to a street or highway having more than two lanes in the same direction, the driver of a vehicle shall safely move the vehicle so as to leave a full lane vacant between the driver and any lane in which the emergency vehicle is completely or partially parked or otherwise stopped, if it is possible to do so."

Now according to clause (e) for purposes of paragraphs (a) and (b) only, the terms "authorized emergency vehicle" and "emergency vehicle" include a towing vehicle defined in section 169.01 sb 52, that has activated flashing lights authorized under section 169.64 sb 3, in addition to the vehicles described in the definition for "authorized emergency vehicle" in section 169.01, subdivision 5. This means not only for police vehicles but also fire-trucks, ambulance and tow trucks.

Now this year there was a change made by adding subdivision 12 which states, "(a) When approaching and before passing a freeway service patrol, road maintenance, or construction vehicle with its warning lights activated that is parked or otherwise stopped on or next to a street or highway having two lanes in the same direction, the driver of a vehicle shall safely move the vehicle to the lane farthest away from the vehicle, if it is possible to do so. (b) When approaching and before passing a freeway service patrol, road maintenance, or construction vehicle with its warning lights activated that is parked or otherwise stopped on or next to a street or highway having more than two lanes in the same direction, the driver of a vehicle shall safely move the vehicle so as to leave a full lane vacant between the driver and any lane in which the vehicle is completely or partially parked or otherwise stopped, if it is possible to do so."

A freeway service patrol vehicle is more commonly known in the metro area as a highway helper. But this now adds road maintenance or construction vehicles to the list of those that we must move over for.

Now I know I may be sticking my neck out some but, somehow I think common sense/courtesy would dictate we should move over if possible.

This is similar to dimming your headlights when meeting traffic. But since it wasn't required and many would not use this courtesy, now it is mandated by law. Please give us troopers, police officers, fireman, EMS, tow truck operators and MnDot maintenance/construction workers some room to help keep our work areas safe. If you don't, then don't get upset when I give you a citation. Let's all be careful and safe out there!

Here are some simple tasks to help you avoid being in a crash: turn on your lights; drive sober; stop talking on the cell phone; slow down; and because not every driver out there is as careful as you, buckle up.

If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws in Minnesota send your questions to Trooper Andy Schmidt, Minnesota State Patrol, 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-2205, or e-mail andrew.schmidt@state.mn.us.

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