January is “Move Over” month in Florida, according to a Tuesday press release from AAA-The Auto Club Group.
A new law requires passing motorists to give adequate space to law enforcement, tow truck drivers, utility service vehicles and other first responders that are stopped on the side of the road.
“This law is in place to protect the ones who protect us,” AAA spokeswoman Montrae Waiters said in a statement.
“Not focusing on the road puts your life and others at risk. If you are caught violating the ‘Move Over’ law, you could be issued a ticket which could result in a fine as well as 3 points on your driver’s license.”
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) reported 204 crashes and 68 injuries as a result of a motorists failing to move over in 2016.
Moreover, law enforcement officials issued more than 5,000 citations to drivers who failed to move over.
“The Move Over Law protects those who work on the side of the roadway each day and ensures that they make it home safely to their families,” DHSMV Executive Director Terry L. Rhodes said.
AAA recommends the following driving tips while driving on Florida’s roadways:
— Watch for emergency vehicles, tow vehicles, sanitation and utility service vehicles pulled off on the side of the road.
— If an emergency vehicle with lights flashing is parked on the side of a two-lane road, you MUST slow down to 20 mph below the posted speed limit and approach with caution, unless otherwise directed by an emergency worker on the scene.
— Slow down when you see the flashing lights of an emergency vehicle on the roadside, and – if you can – move over into an adjacent lane. If you cannot change lanes, reduce your speed to 20 mph below the speed limit.
— Pay attention to changes in traffic patterns and speed limits, and look out for motorists stranded on the side of the road waiting for assistance.
Most importantly, never drive distracted. “Anything that takes your mind off the task of driving is a distraction,” the press release said. “PUT IT DOWN – no text or call is worth a life.”