Move Over law gets drivers to slow

GLADSTONE — The expansion of the move over law took effect a month ago. According to the Michigan State Police Gladstone Post and the Escanaba Public Safety Department, there has not been an increase of any tickets issued in regards to the new guidelines of the law.

“I don’t think we will see an increase yet because people are slowing down a little bit more because of the roads and weather,” said MSP Sgt. Mark Erickson of the Gladstone Post. The Gladstone Post covers all of Menominee, Delta and Schoolcraft counties.

He said during the summer is when there will be a likely increase in tickets issued.

Escanaba Public Safety Lt. Marc Zawacki said he didn’t think there has been an increase in officers writing the certain infractions that accompany the law. He said the goal is for drivers to be compliant.

The new move over law went into effect on Feb. 13. The expanded law penalizes drivers if they don’t move over a lane and slow down if there are any emergency, maintenance and utility vehicles on the side of the road with lights flashing.

Drivers now have to slow down to 10 mph below the posted speed limit as well as yield their lane, if possible, when passing police or emergency vehicles, roadside tow trucks, garbage trucks, maintenance, and utility vehicles that have amber lights flashing. Failure to do so could result in a civil offense subject to a $400 fine.

Although there hasn’t been an issue during the first month for the local Michigan State Police troopers, Erickson said this law is extremely important in keeping everyone safe, especially with the speed limit increase on US 2 between Gladstone and St. Ignace.

“It’s a good law that is going to keep us all a little bit safer. It gives us a little bit more room to work. Things happen very quickly and unexpectedly when you’re at traffic crashes so it is always good to have a little bit of extra room,” he said.

Zawacki said the law was something needed for safety and whenever safety can be improved is a positive for everyone.

Drivers being compliant and vigilante when nearing vehicles with lights on is something important to remind people, he said.

“There is usually people around those areas,” he said.

Under the new law, disobeying it is a 90-day misdemeanor. Erickson said it can become a felony if a driver causes an accident that leads to the injury or death of emergency first responders.

“At some point almost everyone is going to have a close call in their career,” said Erickson about the possibilities of law enforcement officers getting sideswiped, almost sideswiped or hit when on the side of the road.

During his time downstate, Erickson said he had a close call with a drunk driver sideswiping his patrol car.

He said he had just gotten back into his vehicle after a routine traffic stop when a drunk driver swiped his car. The lights were still flashing as the impact caused Erickson’s spotlight on the outside of the vehicle to smack into the windshield.

“(The new law) will definitely keep everyone safer,” he said.