MSP cracks down on 'Move Over' violators

Nolan Ryan
The Detroit News

Michigan state troopers are joining officers in five other states in a crackdown on drivers who fail to move over for emergency vehicles that are stopped with flashing lights activated.

Michigan State Police patch

 Under Michigan’s Emergency Vehicle Caution Law, also known as the Move Over law, when an emergency or rescue vehicle on the side of the highway has lights flashing, drivers are required to get over into the next lane. If that's not possible, drivers are supposed to slow down.

Stepped-up enforcement of Michigan's law and similar measures began Sunday and continues through Saturday here and in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, the other members of the Six State Trooper Project. 

The project rotates its focus on public safety issues, said MSP spokesman Lt. Michael Shaw.

"(Move Over) was one of the areas that were picked," he said. "We still know that we have educational issues in Michigan, trying to get people to move over."

The campaign comes on the heels of a roadside crash last month that killed a construction worker on Interstate 75 in Detroit, as well as a crash in May that killed a tow truck driver on I-94 in Washtenaw County.

Shaw said those incidents didn't specifically lead to this week's enforcement campaign, but police want to prevent similar tragedies.

"It’s so dangerous for the first responders on these crash scenes. It's also dangerous to the community as well," he said. "We’ll do the educational portion. We’ll also make sure we have troopers watching other troopers. If we come across construction, we may sit in that construction zone. We're going to do the same for tow truck drivers."

Violators can be fined $500 and sentenced to 90 days in jail, with higher penalties for drivers who injure or kill someone after failing to move over.

Bill Byers, founder of Move Over Michigan Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to educating the public on the law, said it's important to alert motorists through campaigns like this one.

"The law itself doesn’t do much if nobody pays attention to it," he said. "I don’t want to see anyone get tickets, but I don’t want to see anyone get killed out there."

Byers said traffic deaths and accidents are getting progressively worse, especially with people looking at their phones while driving. He believes the problem will begin to be solved if Michigan's driver's training classes include instruction on giving room for vehicles and people on the side of the road.

"It doesn’t matter if it’s a guy mowing the grass; they still deserve that respect to move over," he said.