News-Miner opinion: Alaska has a “move-over law” requiring drivers to give a breadth of safety when they pass emergency service vehicles, and it would behoove you to follow it. With the snow accumulating and the darkness growing, it’s a good time for a friendly reminder that obeying this move-over law could prevent a tragedy.
Drivers will, most often, see police or Alaska State Troopers having pulled another driver over issuing a ticket or conducting a sobriety test. This can be a precarious situation for a law enforcement officer. There’s no need to add risk to the officer’s or trooper’s already risky job. Snow can sometimes choke shoulders of roads and highways, exposing law enforcement officers to further risk as they conduct their job.
When you come up to a police cruiser on the shoulder of the road, lights flashing, move into another lane if you can. If another lane is unsafe or not possible, slow down and pass by deliberately. By doing so you could avoid a misdemeanor and a $150 fine. More importantly, you will also avoid accidentally hitting a law enforcement officer or the officer’s vehicle.
You might also find firefighters, first responders, tow truck drivers or animal control officers conducting official business on the shoulder of the road, too. The law applies when these are working with their flashers on, too.
Alaska Statute 28.35.185. outlines the move-over law:
“(a) The driver of a vehicle that approaches a stationary emergency vehicle, fire vehicle, law enforcement vehicle, tow truck in the act of picking up a vehicle, or animal control vehicle being used to perform official duties, when the stationary vehicle is displaying flashing emergency lights on a highway or roadway
(1) with two or more lanes traveling in the same direction, unless otherwise directed by law enforcement or emergency personnel, shall
(A) if possible in the existing safety and traffic conditions, vacate the lane closest to the emergency vehicle, fire vehicle, law enforcement vehicle, tow truck in the act of picking up a vehicle, or animal control vehicle being used to perform official duties; or
(B) if a lane change under (A) of this paragraph would be impossible, prohibited by law, or unsafe, slow to a reasonable and prudent speed considering the traffic, roadway and weather conditions;
(2) with fewer than two lanes traveling in the same direction, unless otherwise directed by law enforcement or emergency personnel, shall slow to a reasonable and prudent speed considering the traffic, roadway and weather conditions.
(b) A person who violates this section is guilty of
(1) a class A misdemeanor if personal injury results from the person’s failure to vacate the lane or slow as required by this section;
(2) an infraction, under circumstances other than in (1) of this subsection.”
Police, troopers and other emergency service personnel work hard to protect you. Obeying the move-over law is a simple way for you to protect them.