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“Move Over” Law Protects Troopers, Emergency and Highway Workers

State police here in Pennsylvania say anytime a trooper has a traffic stop on the highways, they are always in a dangerous situation.

As a safety precaution, state law in both New York and Pennsylvania maintains that drivers must “move over” to the opposite lane if there is any type of emergency vehicle in the shoulder.

42-year old Christopher Skinner, a New York State Trooper, was killed on Interstate 81 when he was struck during a traffic stop Thursday afternoon.

Investigators say Skinner was out of his vehicle when 60-year old Almond Upton of Florida deliberately crashed into him with his pick-up truck.

Troopers here in Pennsylvania say regardless of the circumstances, doing traffic stops on the highways are always dangerous.

“You got to remember, we`re on the side of the road, people are coming by very high speeds, we`ve had troopers hit with car mirrors, just standing on the side of the road,” said Corporal Edmond Fret.

That`s why both Pennsylvania and other states have a “move over” law which maintains that drivers must, if possible, move over to the next lane when an emergency vehicle is parked on the shoulder.

“It`s always better to move over, give us some room to operate, give the fire fighters, or PennDOT workers, or ambulance people room to operate, slow down when you see us if you can`t move over into the other lane,” said Cpl. Fret.

At a rest stop just off Interstate 81 in Great Bend, many say it`s a good law.

“I’m also a fireman too so I can understand with the traffic involved and a lot of time people do not pay attention to what`s going on, so if they`re made to pull over,” said Ron Dawson of Forest Lake Township.

“It`s a good thing because sometimes you don`t know what`s going on up ahead and all of sudden everybody`s pulling over and you follow right along and say that`s why,” said Carol Jackson of Susquehanna.

‘You always pull over, I always pull over to the left, somebody`s parked on the right hand side, you see them with their lights on, so you got time, pull over,” said Terry Wescott of Whitney Point, NY.

State police say fines for violating the move over law in Pennsylvania are set by magistrates on a case-by-case basis but can be as high as $250.

16 comments

  • jeff

    I think everyone moves over for firefighters and saftey workers….police haha u kill ppl u dont save ppl thats what firefighters and emts r for maybe if ir a cop u should.get a real job or learn how to pull ppl over better and not try and shoot them for finding a safe place to pull over….u waste s of tax dollars

    • Randy

      As a former firefighter for Columbia Hose Company No. 1 out of New Milford PA. I agree with this law. I have almost been hit a few times on 81 and on a few less traveled roads. And no I was not standing in the middle of the road, I was on the shoulder or doing my job. And Jeff you are ignorant cops are here to keep us safe even if i don’t agree with them all the time. How about we learn to respect those who are willing to endanger themselves for us if it’s military, police, fire/rescue or ems.

  • Granny

    Sounds good but when you are in the passing lane and some idiot trys to get over, and of course brakes first and slows down because their is a COP, and cuts you off, not a good ides. A better solution is for the cops to go to the passenger side of stopped car as previous person posted.

    • anonymous

      As a law enforcement officer in a rural area the passenger side method isn’t always the best method due to the terrain on and off the shoulder of the road. It shouldn’t be about JUST pulling over to the left lane it should be about driving cautiously and intelligently when you see a vehicle stop in progress. Just slow down enough that u have time to maneuver in the event that you need to get over or can’t get over. And it’s not always the officers fault on location of the stop. In my experience where I want the person to pull over and where they actually pull over is night and day. Nothing is ever perfect but if a few fines get people to start to realize they need to pay attention to what’s going on on the road just a little more than they already do than the law has done it’s job.

      In regards to this case…just another reason I kiss my family goodbye on a daily basis bc you just never know. RIP Trooper Skinner

  • Kim

    Last year my husband got a ticket for not pulling over into the passing lane when two state police had a car stopped on the shoulder. Neither one of us knew the law was in effect. this happened on interestate 80 in monroe county

  • Helen

    Since they waste money in this state of Pa, why don’t they put every 1/2 mile pull off areas so troopers are better protected because this law will only work when there no traffic BTW when those police lights come on it’s like headlights humans are like Mosquito’s their eyes go right for it and as an E.M.T I see auto accidents in the future.

  • Decoy

    I’m a truck driver .. And when I see a trooper on side of the rd .. I always slow down and try to change lanes .. The problem in most cases all cars starts to pass on left .. Not seeing or pay attention to whats going on ahead and Not allowing one or makeing it very dangerous to change lanes ..creating a hazardous situation ..

  • Justathinking

    How about the move over law AND implementing the passenger side approach? This has been done in other states. The officer approaches the vehicle on the passenger side of car. It seems to me it’s safer and I have read articles on how the officers find hidden passenger/suspects in the backseat something like 65% more often this way. I understand California has done this for 20 years or longer! There has to be more pros than cons on this. It’s not always possible to move over; rounding curves with both lanes occupied, heavy traffic, etc. it’s worth a look into! For Gods sake, too many lives are lost to not be at least checked into.

  • Kristy Jo

    It’s common sense folks, you see anyone along side the road, you move over, no matter what! I always have done this, I never knew it was a law. Law enforcement have a job to do, don’t be doing illegal stuff , and then take it out on law enforcement, emergency personal , or even fire fighters. They aren’t there to give you a hard time, make your life difficult. If you’re breaking the law, all I can say is sucks to be.

    Don’t be ignorant just use your head and common sense!

    • KW

      Thank you. I dispatch tow truck operators 24/7 and they are always forgotten about when it comes to the move over law. They are providing emergency services to stranded motorists and are at just as much risk as anyone else on the side of the highway, including the customer’s.

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