Fire engine decoy

Decoy Used To Enforce Move Over Law

Police in Woodbridge New Jersey recently used a decoy fire truck to enforce that state’s Move Over Law. In spite of the fact that a large fire truck with its emergency lights flashing was posted on the road’s shoulder, many motorists paid no heed and refused to slow down or move to the far lane.

The first Move Over Law in the US was enacted in 1996 and, as of 2012, all 50 states have some form of Move Over Law that requires motorists to move over into the opposite lane or, if they can’t move over, to slow down when they encounter emergency vehicles on the side of the road. In spite of the law, according to estimates, law enforcement officers are killed by the side of the road at a rate of one per month and approximately five firefighters per year are killed. Surprisingly, tow truck operators are killed at an even greater rate.

New Jersey’s law was enacted in 2009 and requires that motorists who can’t move over into the opposite lane slow “to a reasonable and proper speed for the existing road and traffic conditions, which speed shall be less than the posted speed limit, and be prepared to stop.” The law not only includes police and fire vehicles but also tow trucks, highway maintenance, and service vehicles that are displaying emergency flashing lights.

This year, Florida amended its Move Over Law to include garbage/sanitation trucks and utility (gas, electric, water) vehicles in addition to police, fire, and tow trucks. Under Florida’s law, motorists who can’t move over are required to slow down at least 20 mph under the posted speed limit.

Enforcement or Entrapment?

In planning for the use of the fire truck decoy, Woodbridge police set up rules:

  • A Move Over Law education program using billboards began on the routes in question several months before the start of the enforcement program.
  • The fire truck was placed on on a straight section of road where a traffic light before the fire truck provided a natural break in traffic.
  • Officers had to verify vehicle speed with a laser gun.
  • Only vehicles that had a clear break in traffic to safely move over or slow down were monitored.

Fortunately, the majority of motorists that were monitored did slow down or move over. Unfortunately for some, the only way to get their attention is by issuing a traffic ticket. The first driver cited for failure to obey the law was traveling at 62 mph and made no effort to move over or slow down.

With the holidays approaching and the roads filled with travelers and shoppers, emergency personnel will be out on the roads in force. Protect the ones that protect you by obeying the Move Over law. Read more: Police use ‘decoy’ firetruck to educate drivers on Move Over law

Baby Bundled In Bulky Winter Coat

Bulky Winter Coats Unsafe With Seat Belts

With the way too early severe cold weather hitting most of the nation, people are pulling their bulky winter coats out of storage but, while those coats provide protection from the cold, they could pose a danger when they are worn under seat belts. Children may be especially vulnerable to the hazards posed by bulky coats winter coats or blankets if they are placed between the child and the seat belt.

In a crash, the body will continue moving forward and injuries or death are only prevented by a seat belt that fits snuggly around the hips. If a bulky winter coat is worn or a blanket is placed between the body and the seat belt, as the body flies forward, instead of being held back, it will slam into the seat belt, possibly causing internal injuries.

Bulky Winter Coats

For more information on how to protect children in winter, read: Safe Kids: Use thin coat in car seat

Thanksgiving Click It or Ticket

Thanksgiving “Click It Or Ticket” Campaign Begins

Along with family gatherings, good food, and lots of football, unfortunately, the Thanksgiving holiday means that we can expect a high death rate on the nation’s highways. Thanksgiving is the most heavily traveled holiday of the year and that makes it the most dangerous holiday of the year for American motorists.

Figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that approximately 301 people lost their lives on American roadways during the Thanksgiving weekend in 2012. The Thanksgiving highway death count starts at 6:00 PM on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving and runs through 5:59 AM on Monday morning.

There are lots of reasons for the high death rate on the roadways. Beginning on Wednesday night, the highways will be very crowded and the flow of traffic will be very slow. That can lead drivers to become frustrated and take unnecessary risks that they might not otherwise take. In American culture, football games and alcohol seem to go hand-in-hand and there will be a lot of drunks on the road. Sunday traffic is almost as bad as the Wednesday evening traffic and, unfortunately, too many drivers wait too long to get on the road to head back home. Drivers may try to speed or take risky chances. Aggressive drivers will be out in force.

With Thanksgiving less than two weeks away, law enforcement agencies throughout the nation will be conducting their annual Thanksgiving “Click It Or Ticket” campaign. The “Click It Or Ticket” campaign begins on November 17th and will run through November 30th. During that time, police will be out in force looking for people who aren’t wearing their seat belts. Sixty percent of the people killed during the 2012 Thanksgiving holiday weekend weren’t wearing seat belts. Police will also be on the lookout for those who are speeding, driving aggressively, or appear to be driving under the influence.

If you plan to travel over the Thanksgiving weekend and your work schedule allows it, try to leave on Tuesday rather than Wednesday and plan to return on Saturday or Monday when the heaviest traffic will be off the roads. Limit your alcohol intake and remember, buzzed driving is impaired driving. Never get behind the wheel of a car if you’ve been drinking even a small amount. Plan on delays and give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination. Remember, being late is better than never arriving at all.

Winter driving tips

Winter Driving Tips

With another blast of cold air racing across the country, here are some good winter driving tips to help make winter driving safer and easier. The folks at Cars.com produced this video to point out the different automotive technologies available on some cars to help you negotiate those snowy, slushy roads.

View the video at: What you need to drive in winter

Backing out of a parking spot

Ask The Traffic School Instructor: Backing Out Of A Parking Spot

Question: I was backing out of a parking spot and couldn’t see due to a large van parked next to me. Even though I was backing very slowly and carefully, I was hit by another car. Who’s at fault in this crash?

Answer: Technically, the driver who will be held at fault in a situation like this will be the driver who is backing out of the parking spot.

In looking at the Florida Statutes, the law simply says “The driver of a vehicle shall not back the same unless such movement can be made with safety and without interfering with other traffic.” That puts the responsibility of preventing a crash on the shoulders of the person backing out of the parking spot.

However, that being said, the true blame can probably be equally shared among the two drivers. Florida law also says the law doesn’t relieve anyone “from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons, nor shall such provisions protect the driver from the consequences of his or her reckless disregard for the safety of others.”

If the other driver was driving too fast or not paying attention, he or she shares in the blame. When driving in a parking lot, drivers should drive slowly, be on the lookout for anyone who may back out in front of them, and be prepared to stop quickly to avoid a crash. Even though the other driver may share in the blame, the person backing out will probably be the only one to get a ticket for failure to use due caution.

Remember that no one has the right-of-way. The law only tries to determine who should have yielded the right-of-way to another driver. The person backing out should yield the right-of-way to the drivers in the travel lanes but those drivers in the travel lanes should also be prepared to yield to prevent a crash.