Drivers to face stiffer penalties in emergency zones

December 28, 2010

By Staff

Motorists face increased penalties soon for failing to make room for emergency vehicles and crews.

The enhanced emergency zone law builds upon existing “move over” regulations to create zones similar to constructions zones around emergency workers. The emergency zone stretches 200 feet in both directions from emergency vehicles.

Under the law, the fine doubles for drivers caught speeding or failing to move over in emergency zones. Offenders face a possible gross misdemeanor charge, jail time and a mandatory 60-day license suspension. The updated law takes effect Jan. 1.

The earlier “move over” law took effect in 2007. Despite the change, the problem continued to worsen. From 2006-09, the state patrol recorded 80 collisions involving passing vehicles striking patrol vehicles along the roadway.

The law also requires the state patrol to conduct a 90-day education period. Troopers plan to focus on educating drivers about the change and the need to slow down and move over in emergency zones.

“Complying with this new law couldn’t be easier,” Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste said in a statement. “Slow down and move over when approaching emergency workers on the side of the road.”

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