Under the new regulations, motorists are required to slow down and, if safe, move over for any maintenance vehicles.
After one year in existence, the “Move Over Law” in New York is expanding.
The law, which pertains to a motorist’s behavior when driving near a roadside situation involving emergency vehicles, has been expanded to require the same courtesies for tow truck drivers and other authorized personnel involved in roadside assistance or other highway maintenance.
According to the state, when possible, motorists must change lanes when they approach an incident where there is a vehicle with flashing red or amber lights. The new law adds the amber lights. When it is not possible to move over, or there is only one lane, drivers must slow down.
The amendment to the state Vehicle and Traffic Law took effect Jan. 1.
Jerry Strack, owner of Central Garage in Lake Placid and a tow truck operator, said he is pleased with the expansion of the law.
“It is something that should have been done before,” Strack said. “You hear more and more about people getting hit as they are out with their trucks trying to help and aid other motorists.”
Strack said that he hopes the expansion of the law makes people more aware of their surroundings while driving, expecially on the interstate.
“I was on the Northway recently, and the lights just do not seem to mean anything to the drivers out there,” Strack said.
Essex County DPW Superintendent Anthony LaVigne said that the highest accident rates on roadways are often found in construction zones, even when the vehicles have their lights flashing.
“The zones are there for the driver’s safety as well as ours,” LaVigne said. “Those on the roads need to be mindful and slow down, then they can be safe and we can be safe as well.”
Essex County Sheriff Richard Cutting said he believes the law should include anyone who is on the roadside to assist in public safety matters.
“This should apply for any public service responders, whether they are police, EMS, fire, highway workers, tow truck drivers or whatever,” Cutting said. “We are a Public Safety agency and, as such, should be concerned with making our fellow public safety workers as safe as possible.”
Cutting also said that he hopes there will be more of a promotion of the law.
“We definitely need to publicize this more as I have been informed by a number of people that they were not aware of this requirement,” Cutting said.
The expansion considers “hazard vehicles” to be tow trucks, HELP trucks, highway maintenance trucks and any other vehicle being used in the construction or maintenance of roadways.
Drivers who violate the Move Over law could be fined up to $275, plus a court surcharge of $85, and sentenced to up to 15 days in jail. The driver also could be assessed three points on their driving record.