CLARENCE, N.Y. (WIVB) – New York State has had a Move Over law on the books for several years now, but many drivers fail to comply, and the results have been tragic.
This week, the Thruway Authority is teaming up with State Police, tow operators, and AAA to reach drivers at Travel Plazas across the state and educate them about the rules.
Crews have brought in vehicles for large displays in the Travel Plaza parking lots and are handing out flyers and stickers to drivers who stop by.
The displays remind everyone that the law requires motorists to give people working along the side of the road enough space to stay safe, whether that’s police, firefighters, EMS crews, tow truck operators, maintenance workers or any other vehicles with emergency lights flashing. As of November 1, 2016, waste and recycling collection vehicles were added to that list.
By law, drivers who are approaching these vehicles on the side of the road must move over a lane, if it is safe to do so. If you can’t move over, you must slow down to pass.
“It’s pretty nerve wracking,” said Erik Ostertag, the manager of Marty’s Towing, who was helping educate drivers as part of this week’s campaign. “You’re out there to help someone. You want to get them and their vehicle out of harms way and then, at the back of you’re mind you’re also worried about someone else coming along and hitting you or the car or the patron you’re out there servicing.”
Crews who were at the Travel Plazas talking to drivers on Monday were also reminding people that they need to slow down or move over well before they get to where a vehicle is on the side of the road.
Too many people have died while working on the side of the road, including a Thruway worker only a few weeks ago. “We had one of our operators in our Syracuse Division struck and killed while he was assisting a tow truck operator,” said Matthew Latko, the Thruway Authority’s Division Maintenance Engineer in Buffalo. “He had two girls and a wife he left behind, and it really hits you hard. It’s an emotional thing for everybody involved.”
“Several Troopers in New York have died because of this,” added Trooper Leonard Genovese. “Nationally, over 200 officers have been killed since ’99.”
The most serious consequence of failing to comply with the Move Over law is the potential to take a life, but any driver who is caught breaking the law could face hundreds of dollars in fines and up to three points on their license.