RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – North Carolina enacted a “move over” law in 2002, a law that requires drivers to move over if possible and reduce speed for emergency vehicles, but drivers continue to avoid the law.
WNCN rode along with State Highway Patrol on Monday to see how often drivers violated the law.
“Every day. It happens every day,” said Trooper Donald Cuff, and WNCN also witnessed a few incidents. Driver after driver violated the law put in place to keep law enforcement, and any road crew, safe from oncoming traffic.
It’s a law that was broken Sunday night when Trooper R.C. Riley’s cruiser was hit by another driver. Riley was on the side of U.S. 70 investigating an accident when 22-year-old Dylan Smith crashed into him.
Riley was taken to the hospital and was later released. Smith is charged with failing to slow or change lanes for an emergency vehicle.
Because of this and other recent incidents, Highway Patrol is on the lookout for any drivers not obeying this law. WNCN was with Cuff while he was on the side of the road three different times. Each time, car after car zoomed by, neglecting the law and coming dangerously close to people that would be defenseless against an oncoming car.
Cuff caught one, out of dozens that violated the state’s “move over” law. The law has been in the books since 2002 and says if possible, a driver should move one lane away from any emergency vehicle on the side of a highway.
“People know it. And when you stop them, the only thing they can tell you is that they’re sorry,” said Cuff.
Cuff knows just how important this law is. A driver hit him last year as he was parked on the side of the road, working an accident.
“A vehicle come around the curve and never slowed down, and rear ended me,” Cuff said.
He was out of work for a week, and still can’t forget that night.
“Of course I think about it when I stop a vehicle. When I’m dealing with that violator, I think about the night I was hit. When I’m in the car doing notes, I’m consistently looking in the mirror to make sure the other cars around me are paying attention to what they’re doing,” said Cuff.
Cuff says when drivers don’t move over, it distracts troopers from the task in front of them, which could be dangerous itself. So, Highway Patrol is urging drivers to follow the law, and give those flashing lights on the side of the road some extra space.
“Just keep in mind that while we’re doing our job they can assist us with moving over so we can continue to keep the roads safe,” said Cuff.
If you’re caught violating this law, you’ll be taken to court and hit with a $250 fine. Of course Highway Patrol understands there are times when you are blocked by traffic and can’t move a lane over. In that instance, you’re expected to slow down as much as you safely can.