Massachusetts Car and Truck Drivers: Slow Down and Move Over to Prevent Accidents–It’s the Law!

Massachusetts drivers now have another law to obey: Drivers need to slow down and move over when approaching stationary police, emergency response, and construction vehicles that have their lights flashing. The penalty: $100, and your insurance rates will probably also go up.

This well intentioned bill was enacted to prevent injuries caused by car accidents. First responders to accident scenes and work crews have suffered serious injuries as the result of negligent drivers who fail to slow and move over, and the legislation is designed to make their work safer.

But can you legislate this kind of safety? The bill itself is quite vague. A driver is required to change lanes “if practicable.” A driver is required to reduce his or her speed to a “reasonable and safe speed for road conditions.” How will that be judged?  And will emergency vehicles leave the scene to chase down violators of this new law?

Saving lives and preventing injuries are, of course, important goals. But real safety comes from a broader awareness of our duty to ensure the safety of emergency and construction personnel, and that awareness begins with proper driving training. It also begins with simple common sense and courtesy.

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