WSP cracking down on ‘move over, slow down’ law

Mar 9, 2023, 4:43 AM | Updated: 6:25 am
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Slow down. Move over. It’s the law any time you see flashing lights on the side of the freeway, and that means any lights.

We shouldn’t have to remind drivers of this, but so many of us fail to follow the law that the State Patrol will be running an emphasis for the next two months, starting this weekend in Pierce County.

State Trooper Chelsea Hodgson runs down the rules for when you see lights on the side of the freeway. “If possible, and if it’s safe to do so, move over a lane,” Trooper Hodgon said. “If it’s unsafe or if there’s too much traffic, you need to at least slow down 10 miles an hour below the posted speed limit. If you are in a zone that is 60 miles an hour or more, you need to be at least at 50 miles an hour.”

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So if you’re on I-5 or I-90, where the speed limit is 70, you need to drop 20 miles an hour when passing the scene.

The other thing drivers don’t seem to realize is that the slow down, move over law applies to any rig with its lights on. “It’s not just a uniform you are protecting,” Trooper Hodgson said. “You’re also protecting folks like the tow truck operators or folks from the Department of Ecology that have the lights flashing while they are cleaning up litter.”

And the slow down, move over requirement extends for 200 feet on either side of the area. So get over early, if it’s safe to do so.

Trooper Hodgson said it can be very scary working on the road with traffic whizzing by only a few feet away. Several tow truck drivers, officers, troopers, and other workers have been injured or killed by driving speeding by these areas.

Normally, the State Patrol would run a one-off emphasis on this in a particular part of the state. This will be a two-month emphasis, hitting every region of Washington. “Hopefully, by having this expand over the course of two months, this will be a really good reminder,” Trooper Hodgson said.

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And while not required by our law, I would even recommend moving over and slowing down for any issue on the shoulder, if it’s safe to do so. Giving the driver of a broken-down car a little extra room just seems like the safe thing to do.

The State Patrol will be focusing on education during this emphasis, but you could still get a $219 fine if caught.

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WSP cracking down on ‘move over, slow down’ law