A Legislative Column by Assemblyman Will Barclay
New York State’s “Move Over Law” was recently expanded to better protect volunteer emergency responders attending to distressed or disabled vehicles along roads and highways. I was pleased to vote in support of the expansion which was signed into law last month and will become effective in 2017.
The expanded law requires drivers to exercise ‘due care’ and, where possible, to move over when approaching a parked or stopped vehicle displaying blue or green lights.
Previously the law applied to ambulances, police cars, and fire vehicles displaying red or white lights and to hazard vehicles displaying amber lights but did not encompass volunteer firefighter and volunteer ambulance worker vehicles.
If drivers are not able to move over, they are required to reduce speed as appropriate.
Violators of the Move Over Law can face a maximum fine of $150 and/or imprisonment of up to 15 days for a first time offense.
The original law, the Ambrose-Searles ‘Move Over Act,’ was named in honor of two law enforcement officers, Onondaga County Sheriff’s Deputy Glenn Searles and State Trooper Robert W. Ambrose, who were both killed while assisting during roadside emergencies.
Deputy Searles was trying to help a woman whose vehicle had slid off the side of the road during wintery conditions on Route 481 in the town of DeWitt in 2003.
A passing vehicle failed to recognize the lights and hazardous conditions and struck Deputy Searles and his vehicle. Sadly, he died as a result of his injuries.
Last year the bridge near to where Deputy Searles was killed was named in his honor.
Trooper Ambrose was killed when his car was struck from behind by a vehicle on the New York State Thruway in the city of Yonkers in 2002.
Trooper Ambrose was investigating an accident when a speeding vehicle, operated by a 20-year-old intoxicated driver, lost control and struck his car. The impact caused his police car to catch fire and the driver and a person from the original accident were also killed in the crash.
Unfortunately, these types of accidents happen far too often.
Law enforcement officials say that attending to roadside emergencies is still one of the most hazardous calls they undertake on duty.
As it is, our first responders risk their lives for the safety of others.
Providing safeguards in the law is the least our state can do for the many dedicated volunteers assisting in roadside accidents.
Hopefully with this law change and raising public awareness about the dangers of emergency respondents’ jobs along the roads, more lives can be spared.
If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office.
My office can be reached by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185.