Overtaking and Passing Parked Emergency Vehicles ("Move Over Law")

Each year across the nation, numerous public safety employees are injured or killed when they are stuck by motorists.  In September 2005, a new state law was passed that provides protection to law enforcement officers, fire fighters and medics when their vehicles are stopped on the side of a road while they are working.  This could be a police officer or trooper on a traffic stop, or an ambulance crew assisting an injured person.  The purpose of this law was to provide a safety zone so their duties can be carried out safely.

Dubbed the “Move Over Law”, the language can be found in Alaska Statute 28.35.185.  The statute states that when an emergency vehicle is stopped, with emergency lights flashing, on a highway or roadway, and there are more than two lanes traveling in the same direction, a motorist shall safely vacate the lane closest to the emergency vehicle, or shall slow to a speed that is reasonable and prudent when passing the emergency vehicle.  The picture on the left, taken on Minnesota Drive, shows a traffic stop where a passing motorist fails to move to the clear left lane. 

Here is an example of how to safely and lawfully pass an emergency vehicle that is stopped on the side of the road:

You are traveling south on Minnesota Drive near 100th, in the right lane, and you are approaching a police officer who has a vehicle stopped on the right shoulder of the road.  To comply with the law, you must move over to the left lane before passing the police vehicle, as long as you can do so safely.  If there is a vehicle in the left lane that restricts your ability to safely move over, then you must slow your vehicle to a reasonable speed before passing the police vehicle.

It’s simple – please give emergency personnel room when you see them on the side of the road – it keeps them and the people they are dealing with safe.

Violations carry two points and a mandatory court appearance.  If, however, injury occurs as a result of the violation, it is a class A misdemeanor.

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