PHOENIX – It was just last month that ABC15 took viewers on the freeway as we rode-along with the Department of Public Safety’s Roadside Motorist Assistants.
They are the highway heroes that rescue drivers from their car troubles.
But, one thing stuck out: just how many drivers did not move over when flashing lights were on.
Arizona’s Move Over Law was implemented back in 2005 and since then it has expanded to include, not just law enforcement and emergency vehicles. It now says that drivers must move over at least one lane, or slow down if it is not safe to move over, when a stranded motorist has hazards on, when ADOT or construction crews are working, etc.
“We’re out there enough that we know what driver’s intentions are,” said DPS Trooper Kameron Lee. “So, we understand if you can’t move over…maybe putting on your turn signal – indicating that you want to move over, but you’re slowing down because you can’t.”
This law was put on the books in the first place because of an increased number of injuries and deaths.
On a national average, DPS reports that 23 highway workers and one law enforcement official are killed every month due to drivers not moving over.
Troopers like Timothy Huffman. He was killed back in 2013 when a semi-truck struck his stopped patrol car near Yuma during a traffic stop.
Trooper Floyd “Skip” Fink was also struck by a car and killed back in 2000 on the U.S. 60 near McClintock Road.
“Picture yourself on the side of the road with cars going by you at 65, 75 miles an hour, depending on where you are,” Trooper Lee said. “Imagine your family member. What would you want drivers to do if you were in that same situation?”
But, if they are out of their patrol cars ticketing or helping another driver, how can they pull over another driver for not moving over?
“If I’m on a traffic stop and I see someone that doesn’t move over, obviously – I need to handle what I’m already there to do,” Trooper Lee explained. “However, I can call to a trooper that may be up ahead and say, ‘Hey look for this car. They didn’t move over when they should have.'”
Instead of a citation, DPS has been working to make it more of a learning experience.
ABC15 requested the statistics from the number of citations and warnings that have been handed out by the department in Arizona since 2014.
They have handed out 18,909 warnings compared to 7,034 citations.
“I’ll take that opportunity to educate them, talk to them about the dangers and maybe they just didn’t quite understand the reason that we’re asking people to do that.”
The law also does not just focus on freeways, it applies to all roadways in Arizona.