Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Florida's Move Over Law

From time to time I like to throw in important safety messages for motorists, not only on Interstate 275 but everywhere else throughout the Tampa Bay area and the entire State of Florida. I just recently returned from a Labor Day weekend trip to the Ft. Lauderdale area and I found some signage on Interstate 75 which is very interesting.

This is about Florida’s “Move Over” law, and it is codified in the Florida Statutes at Section 316.126. Basically, what the Move Over law is that if you are approaching an emergency vehicle parked on the side of the highway with its emergency lights activated, you are required to move over to the next lane or reduce your speed by 20 mph. After all, this is a law that is there for your safety and protection.

So, what is an authorized emergency vehicle?

An emergency vehicle is any law enforcement vehicle (such as the Florida Highway Patrol, county sheriff or city police), fire/EMS vehicle, ambulance, or even a wrecker vehicle such as the Road Rangers we see on Interstate 275. You have seen them every day when you travel on Interstate 275 or any other highway in the Tampa Bay area. These emergency vehicles are the guardians of safety on the highway, whether it may be Interstate 275 or elsewhere.

I am driving in the right lane on Interstate 275; I see a Florida Highway Patrol cruiser parked to the side with its emergency lights activated. What do I do?

Florida law requires you – the driver – to vacate the lane you are in by moving over into the next available lane. However, there will be times that you cannot get over into the next available lane such as heavy traffic. In that case you must reduce your speed by at least 20 mph.

In a situation where the speed limit is 20 mph or less (such as an on or off ramp on Interstate 275, the short one way roads that connect the highway with the local streets), you must reduce your speed to 5 mph when you see emergency vehicles on the shoulder of the ramp.

In any event, you must follow the directions of a law enforcement officer, especially when you approach an accident scene, at all times. So, please give these hard working guardians of public safety your attention and please make room for them so that they can do their important work: Keeping you safe.

Moreover, I believe the Florida DOT should erect signage like the one shown above reminding us Floridians and visitors to our state about this very important law, not only in the Ft. Lauderdale area but in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area and statewide as well. So, let's be safe out there!