The Washington State Patrol (WSP) is partnering with the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), the Towing and Recovery Association of Washington (TRAW), and the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) to conduct a “Move Over, Slow Down” campaign beginning this weekend and continuing through April.
Emphasis patrols will be conducted throughout the state during the next two months focused on educating drivers on the importance of RCW 46.61.212 – a law which requires motorists to move over or slow down when approaching emergency or work zones.
“Our emergency responders and highway workers need your help to keep them safe,” said WSP Chief John Batiste. “Choosing to move over or slow down allows them to do their job of helping others in need and continuing their work ensuring our roadways are safe for the great people of our state.”
Per state law, motorists approaching an emergency zone or a work zone are required to move over one lane, if possible, or slow down by at least 10 miles per hour (mph) below the posted speed limit. An emergency or work zone includes the 200 feet of roadway prior to and after the incident or area of work.
“All of our emergency responders, from those who assist disabled vehicles to those who provide life- saving care to crash victims, risk their lives on the side of our roads every day,” said WTSC Director Shelly Baldwin. “They deserve to be protected, too. It’s easy for drivers to move over or slow down when approaching people or flashing lights on the road ahead. You can prevent another tragedy when you do.”
The majority of drivers understand the law requires motorists to move over or slow down for police, fire, and ambulance crews, but the law also includes tow trucks and work crews who have vehicles with audible or visual signals – such as tow truck’s flashing red lights.
“As tow truck operators, we have dedicated our life to serving the public and motorists in need of assistance, and the unfortunate truth is that can cost us our life,” said TRAW Administrative Director Emily Wade. “When your office is roadside with drivers traveling past at high speeds, every inch counts, and even a small reduction in speed can make a lifesaving difference. Weigh the risk and you will find that slowing down and moving over is not a choice, it’s a law, and an obligation that we all need to abide by.”
The same rules apply for work crews performing emergency maintenance, incident response, or other roadside work, such as the employees of WSDOT.
“Our crews work to make emergency repairs, keep travelers safe, and help traffic keep moving every day, but they need space to do that work safely,” said Secretary of Transportation Roger Millar. “We want everyone to return home at the end of the day.”
Areas throughout the state will be participating in the Move Over, Slow Down emphasis events during the next two months, with the first area of focus scheduled on Friday, March 10, in Pierce County.