Roanoke police enforce 'move over' law

Police focus on educating drivers on law

ROANOKE, Va – The "move over" law went into effect a few years ago. The state law requires drivers to move over when they see emergency or construction vehicles on the side of the road. Roanoke City police are cracking down in an effort to protect their own officers.

WSLS 10's Irisha Jones has been following police around on Interstate 581 as they stopped drivers who violated the law. There were lots of cars that did move over when they saw the blue lights. But there were some that didn't move over.
Police say all it takes is one car to take a life.

Seeing these blue lights in your rearview mirror can be a quick reminder to obey all traffic laws, especially the "move over" law.

"Slow down if they are not able to merge over into the next lane. Or move over completely. And that protects the officers, firefighters and medical personnel," Officer Nathan Buck said.

Roanoke police gave tickets to people who don't slow down or move over on Interstate 581. The effort is underway after two incidents in which officers were hit by cars handling traffic stops.

"He was out trying to assist another vehicle when he was crossing back in front of his vehicle. He was struck from behind. He is doing better," Buck said.

Officer T.J. Dowdy had a close situation while out patrolling.

"I've been so close I could feel the rearview mirror on the passenger side swoop my shirt," Dowdy said.

Moving over also gives officers enough room to do their jobs.

"You have to be mindful of traffic coming at you between the lane and yourself. There's only this much space," said Dowdy.

This operation is about education.

"We want to make sure people understand we have a job to do as well. We just want to do it safely," said Dowdy.

But there are times when you can't always move over. Officers say use your best judgement to slow down to a reasonable speed.

"You don't want to slam on the brakes to 15-20 mph 'cause that could cause a reaction behind you and cause further accidents," said Buck.

Police also handed out tickets to drivers without a driver's license, registration and inspection sticker.