Each week, we read our 8 On Your Side viewers’ complaints about their commutes or requests for a simple clarification on a traffic-related problem. But for the next several weeks, we’re turning the tables and asking law enforcement officers what troubles them the most about drivers.
Like most law enforcement agencies, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office is worried motorists are not understanding or simply ignoring the Move Over Law, putting lives in jeopardy.
The law requires drivers to move at least one lane over when approaching an authorized emergency vehicle with its lights on. If that’s not possible, drivers are to slow to at least 20 miles below the posted speed limit. If the speed limit is 20 mph or less, drivers should go no more than 5 mph.
Despite the law, Lieutenant Jason Marques, a 20-year veteran of the Pasco Sheriff’s Office, and a former motorcycle deputy, says rubberneckers are often the worst violators.
“The next thing you know, they’re coming awfully close to you or your patrol vehicle, and you have to dive out of the way because you’ve almost been struck,” Lt. Marques said.
Lt. Marques adds that the Move Over Law isn’t only to protect officers, first responders, or Road Rangers. It also applies to utility, sanitation, and tow truck crews that have visual signals, such as the amber rotating lights common on tow trucks, displayed.
“Our citizens need to help protect those that are protecting them. Our jobs are dangerous enough sitting on the side of the road dealing with either a traffic stop or traffic crash, and then we have to worry someone’s not paying attention, and could potentially crash into us,” he continued.
A citation for breaking the Move Over Law carries a penalty of three points on your driver’s license and a fine. In Pasco County, it’s $164.
In 2017, more than 27,000 citations were issued in Florida to people who violated the Move Over Law. That includes tickets issued by the Florida Highway Patrol and local law enforcement agencies. Here’s the breakdown in the Tampa Bay area:
- Citrus County: 82
- Hernando County: 233
- Highlands County: 35
- Hillsborough County: 1,073
- Manatee County: 162
- Pasco County: 376
- Polk County: 1,348
- Sarasota: 196
You can read the Florida Statute on the Move Over Law at this link.
If you have a traffic or road construction complaint or question, contact Traffic Reporter Meredyth Censullo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook at WFLAMeredyth.