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Move-over law change proposed

Published (3/9/2012)
By Mike Cook
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Moving over, when practical, for an emergency vehicle parked alongside a road with its lights activated may no longer be a requirement in Minnesota.

However, it would still be encouraged.

Rep. Mike Beard (R-Shakopee) sponsors HF1955 that would clarify the state’s move-over law so that a driver must slow down to a safe speed for conditions, and, if possible, move the vehicle to the lane furthest away from the parked emergency vehicle on a roadway having two lanes in the same direction.

Approved March 5 by the House Transportation Policy and Finance Committee, which Beard chairs, the bill was sent to the House Public Safety and Crime Prevention Policy and Finance Committee. There is no Senate companion.

“Our primary interest is that you move over where practical and safe, but in lieu of that, you can slow down to comply with the spirit of the law and keep the folks on the shoulder safe in the process,” Beard said.

Beard said anecdotal research has indicated since the move-over law was enacted, the number of incidents has increased. He hopes to have firm numbers for the bill’s next committee stop. Additionally, driving in different parts of the country last summer, Beard said he noticed that signs in other states were similar to what Minnesota now uses except that they read “move over” or simply “slow down.”

“They don’t seem to have the same panicky, knee-jerky reaction that we have in Minnesota where it says ‘move over or else’ is what the implication is. I thought in order to come into conformance, especially on our interstate system, with all the other states around else that we should add the words ‘or slow down’ to the law as it exists.”

The Department of Public Safety said there would be no cost to implement the law, and the Department of Transportation, to keep costs at zero, has indicated they would leave current signs as is.

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