AUSTIN (KXAN) - Austin police are watching out for drivers who don't obey the state's Move Over Law. That's the law that requires people to slow down or get out of the lane closest to emergency vehicles on the side of a road or highway.
It's not hard to see why the state passed the Move Over Law in 2003. On any highway in Texas you can see the speeds some people travel and you can also imagine how dangerous it could be if you're parked on the side just feet away from the passing traffic. Police say emergency workers are put in harm's way everyday.
"People are not reducing their speed and they're not moving over," said Lt. Ely Reyes with APD's Highway Enforcement Command Motorcycle Unit.
Officers are on a mission to educate but also save lives.
"We want people to know what the law is and to voluntarily comply with it and move over or slow down for the safety of themselves and everybody that's on the road," said Lt. Reyes.
The Texas Move Over Act requires drivers get out of highway lanes closest to a stopped emergency vehicle with lights on--or slow down to 20 miles per hour under the speed limit.
According to police people aren't doing that. In fact officers say already this year they've handed out 485 tickets to people. Last year 723 tickets were given out, the year before that 905 tickets.
"A lot of time what people think is that officer is already on a stop so he's not going to stop me too but people need to be aware their is a law in place and we are going to be enforcing it and we have been enforcing it," said Lt. Reyes.
Beginning Thursday officers will team up. While one goes after traffic violators--a partner will monitor passing traffic.
As we saw, not only did cars not slow down or move over---they sped past a patrol car going well over the 60 mile per hour speed limit. Video from the Texas Department of Public Safety shows what can happen in just seconds, when a driver doesn't pay attention or loses control near a stopped patrol car.
"If the vehicle drifts just a foot or two they can have a collision with that emergency vehicle and cause death or serious bodily injury to that officer, emergency worker, or the driver of that vehicle that's been stopped," Lt. Reyes.
Passing an emergency vehicle without slowing down or moving over is a Class C Misdemeanor punishable by up to a 200 dollar fine. If you're speeding, you could get another ticket on top of that.
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