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'Move Over Law' protects emergency vehicles

Last December, a driver from Marietta slammed her Acura into the rear of a fire truck from the Holly Grove Fire Department on I-85 North, causing approximately $30,000 in damages to the 1996 fire engine. The wreck happened near the interstate's north rest area.

The woman also suffered injuries in the Christmas Eve 2015 accident, which occurred during rainy weather but while visibility remained good. The fire engine was at a standstill, blocking access to the traffic lane while firefighters handled a previous accident.

According to the department's fire chief, all of the fire truck's rear lights were on when the wreck occurred. The driver was charged with expired registration and failure to reduce her speed. It is unknown what caused the driver to ignore the emergency vehicle.

The fire chief wants to make sure that North Carolina drivers are aware of the state's "Move Over Law" that protects law enforcement, utility and other emergency personnel who have reason to be stopped on the highways.

The website for the Department of Public Safety states that motorists are required to move a lane away from these emergency vehicles on highways with multiple lanes "if they can safely do so." On two-lane roads, drivers must reduce speed and use caution when approaching vehicles on the road's shoulder that have their lights flashing.

Violations of the Move Over law net mandatory $250 fines that aren't dismissed by the North Carolina courts. Additionally, there can also be civil penalties awarded in settlements or judgments to those who get injured in collisions resulting from drivers' negligence and failure to follow the Move Over law.

Source: The Dispatch, "Accident sparks Move Over Law message," Darrick Ignasiak, March 30, 2016

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