Troopers start enforcing emergency zone law

April 1, 2011

By Staff

NEW — 8 a.m. April 1, 2011

Washington State Patrol troopers start enforcing a statewide emergency zone law Friday, meaning motorists need to make more room for emergency vehicles or face a stiffer penalty.

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.

The emergency vehicles include police cars, fire and emergency medical service vehicles, tow trucks and state Department of Transportation vehicles.

Under the law, the fine doubles for motorists 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.

Since the law took effect Jan. 1, troopers focused on educating drivers about the updated rule. Now, the 90-day education period is done, and troopers start citing motorists.

(The education effort included a YouTube video to inform drivers about the change.)

The state patrol said troopers do not plan to conduct sting operations or emergency zone emphasis. Instead, troopers ticket motorists on case-by-case basis or as incidents occur.

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.

Motorists speeding, driving too fast for conditions or driving under the influence contributed to the accidents.

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