The Move Over Law: Lubbock Drivers are Breaking It - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

11/27/06

The Move Over Law: Lubbock Drivers are Breaking It

Just imagine a fast moving car out of control heading for you as you were standing on the side of the road.  It's a problem happening to emergency crews across the country. NewsChannel 11 obtained heart wrenching dash cam video from patrol cars in different states to show you why officers want drivers to obey the law.

Police are not just writing speeding tickets on the side of the road,  Lubbock police officers, like Jason Lewis, are praying for their lives. "We've all jumped out of the way of moving vehicles," says Lewis.

A moving vehicle is like a 2,000 pound bullet to the human body which is why officers are constantly looking over their shoulder. "I have to watch it. There are some vehicles that have passed within two feet of me," said Lewis.

Texas Department of Public Safety Corporal John Gonzalez says it gets scary very quickly.  "I have had to move around cars coming at me," he said.

It's a deadly situation LPD and DPS troopers face every day. That is why Texas lawmakers passed what is commonly called the "move over law."  The law began in September 2003 and only pertains when emergency vehicles are parked on the shoulder with their lights flashing. The law says to move to the next lane away from the emergency vehicle.  But, if there is not another lane for you to move, then you must slow down 20 miles below the posted speed limit.

"A lot of times, people won't slow down or move over," said Lewis.  He says that is frustrating. He agreed to let us follow him and his partner as they pulled over speeders on South Loop 289. We wanted to see for ourselves if Lubbock drivers were following the law. 

We found that Lewis was exactly right. The Loop has a posted speed limit of 60 mph.  These drivers should be going 40 mph when we clocked them or moving over.   

"57 mph - 58 mph - 60 mph - 54 mph -54 mph," Lewis said after clocking each car whizzing by his partner who was writing a ticket.  

Some of the drivers were clearly ignoring the law.  "54 mph -52 mph- 56 mph," noted Lewis. 

Not all Lubbock drivers get a "failing" grade.  We found some who get an "A -" for obeying the law.  A few moved over and slowed down to the appropriate speed.  But that only happened when a NewsChannel 11 car was parked on the side of the road with the officers.

"We just encourage the general public to keep us in mind when they see the lights up ahead," said Lewis.

Because Corporal Gonzalez says he would like to go home to his three boys and wife at the end of the day and not find himself tossed around on a busy highway like this Tennessee trooper.  

Lubbock police officers say it is a hard law to enforce.  He says most officers work alone and police just can not drop what they are doing to chase down the violator. Since 2003,  LPD has issued nine citations to drivers who don't move over or slow down.   DPS troopers have issued 6,900 tickets.

Earlier this year, one trooper was killed west of Odessa while he had two vehicles pulled over.  It is not just police officers you have to mover for.  Any emergency vehicle that has their lights flashing you must move over or slow down.

The fine for getting caught if you don't "move over or slow down" is $200. But if you injure someone, the fine increases to $2,000 or 180 days in jail, or both.

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