Move over, it’s still the law

Gary Cutler
Boulder County

I know my readers would never intentionally break the law, or endanger anyone’s life. So, this time
I wanted to talk to you about the move over law. By the end of the article, I want you to be
knowledgeable about the law and then go have a conversation with someone you know. This could be
family, friends, co-workers, or if you’re not the shy type, perhaps a stranger. This is the only way we can
get control of injuring or killing officers in the line of duty.

The road has been my office for the past 14 years, and as a motorcycle officer for the last 11 years.
I can tell you that over those years during traffic contacts there has been more than one time I have had
to run out of the way of a car drifting out of its lane heading towards me. None of the times I was almost
hit was by someone trying to hit me; they just weren’t paying attention to driving. That means they
weren’t able to correctly accomplish what they should have been while sitting behind the wheel. I can
assure you the officer will be anything but sympathetic when he catches up to the driver that has almost
hit him.

A lot of traffic enforcement officers spend a large amount of time standing somewhere on the
roadway during their shift. Remember, this is their office. Try to think of it this way, you’re sitting in
your office and every day cars speeds by your chair going 65 MPH a foot and a half away from you.
Sometimes, they may actually hit your chair. If this happened to the average person every day, I
guarantee people would be changing their driving habits immediately. They would demand it, because
that is absurd behavior to have to put up with every day.

Now you know what it feels like to work the road as a law enforcement officer, let’s look at the
move over law itself. It is a law that requires drivers to move over for a patrol car, maintenance vehicle,
or tow truck on the shoulder of a roadway with 2 adjacent lanes in the same direction. The law states a
driver shall exhibit due care and caution and yield right of way by moving into a lane at least one moving
lane apart from the authorized vehicle.

To be able to move over in moderate to heavy traffic requires the driver to be paying attention to
what’s happening ahead of them. I’m not talking about just the car in front of you. It requires scanning
as far out as you can to know what’s coming up. If you see flashing lights don’t wait until the last minute
to move over. Do it as soon as possible, that way you do not have to be right on top of the officer on the
shoulder when you’re looking behind you trying to change lanes.

If you are unable to move over due to a large amount of traffic, then you are required to
significantly slow down. It states that the driver shall reduce and maintain a safe speed and proceed
with due care and caution. There is no specific speed given, but I can tell you, it needs to be more than just 5-10 MPH. Coming from someone that has worked the road, that is not slow enough, and a law enforcement officer will be talking to you.
Please do this for anyone on the side of the road, not just us. Now you know the facts. As always,
safe travels!