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Florida Highway Patrol urges drivers to ‘move over’

January 10, 2019
North Fort Myers Neighbor

Being a trooper for the Florida Highway Patrol is a dangerous job, with the toughest part, perhaps, being avoiding oncoming vehicles during a traffic stop.

FHP is reminding drivers of that danger - and a state law that requires vehicles to "move over."

Motorists in Florida are required to move over a lane for emergency and service vehicles stopped along the roadway.

Using fiery crash video, FHP?spokesperson Lt. Gregory Bueno on Wednesday highlighted the reason the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles designates January as Move Over Month.

The dash cam footage showed a November crash officials say was caused by a motorist who failed to move over, resulting in injury to an FHP trooper.

"Our purpose is to remind people there is a move-over law and it is intended to protect our first responders and service workers because they perform a critical service and they do it on the side of the road," Bueno said. "It's preventative. It's about making the good choice, being alert and responsible and move over."

In that Nov. 5 incident, Trooper Richard Verbiest stopped behind a disabled motorist on the inside paved shoulder of southbound I-75 at mile marker 134 when a vehicle swerved onto the paved shoulder and struck the guardrail along with the rear portion of the stopped FHP vehicle.

The crash resulted in serious injury to the driver and minor injury to Verbiest, who still was able to rescue the driver and drag him to safety.

The disabled motorist escaped injury.

"It could have been a lot worse and you can see how dangerous it could be in the video," Bueno said. "If he had gotten out of the car a second earlier, he could have been killed."

Bueno said in 2018 there were 231 crashes that resulted from a failure to move over and more than 17,000 citations handed out for violations.

He added that there are many more instances weren't reported.

"We all have our own stories and a lot of us have been hit and have numerous stories of near misses," Bueno said. "Just because it resulted in a crash doesn't speak for how often a violation occurs. That's why the numbers we gave were low."

The Florida move over law says when approaching a stopped emergency vehicle on a multiple-lane highway, that vehicle must vacate the lane closest to the emergency vehicle. If traffic congestion prevents a safe lane change, the vehicle is required to reduce its speed by 20 mph below the posted speed limit.

According to state statutes, a violation will result in three points on your license and a fine of $161 for a moving violation.

It can also result in an increase in your auto insurance.



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