The Greiner Report
Subcommittee and Committee meetings were fast and furious this week, as is always the case during Funnel Week. Senate bills MUST make it through a Senate Committee in order to stay alive for further consideration, and House bills must make it through a House Committee. Meetings run long, and tempers run short as people rush to get their bills ushered through the appropriate committee.
This week’s Senate Republican newsletter contained an article about Iowa’s “Move Over” law, which got some tweaking this week in the Senate Transportation Committee. The article is as follows:
If you’ve ever had to pull over on the shoulder of a busy highway, you know how dangerous it can be. High speeds and distracted drivers can be a dangerous combination on any road but if you need to fix a tire or wait for a tow truck, it can be deadly. It is never recommended that you change a tire on an interstate highway. Drivers should always wait for law enforcement or automotive professionals to arrive at the scene. Unfortunately the highway helpers are then called on to put their lives at risk in order to help those on the side of the road. That’s why Iowa passed the Move Over law in 2002.
The law requires motorists to change lanes or slow down when approaching stationary emergency, towing or maintenance vehicles with their flashing lights activated. Drivers should yield to emergency vehicles displaying flashing lights or giving an audible signal by moving over to the right, stopping and waiting until the vehicle has passed before proceeding.
The law is an attempt to keep first responders safe as well as prevent deaths. There is an added benefit in reducing secondary crashes involving approaching motorists and speeding up the overall incident clearance process, alleviating congestion and delay on highways.
Signage is posted throughout the state telling drivers to move over and slow speeds for emergency and maintenance vehicles. Fines for breaking the law start at a $100 fine with additional criminal penalties if death or injury result from failing to slow down or move over.
Senate File 2091was recently voted out of the Senate Transportation Committee. The bill mandates that the Iowa Department of Transportation institute an education program regarding the Move Over law. The bill also requires drivers who are unable to move to another lane of traffic to reduce speeds by at least 10 miles per hour or a “reasonable and proper” speed.
All states, except Hawaii and Washington, D.C., have a Move Over law. According to recent data from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, more than 150 U.S. law enforcement officers have been killed since 1999 after being struck by vehicles along America’s highways. And a national poll by Mason Dixon Polling & Research, sponsored by the National Safety Commission discovered that 71 percent of Americans have not heard of Move Over laws and 90 percent believe traffic stops and roadside emergencies are dangerous for law enforcement and first responders.
Education is the key to prevent deaths along Iowa roadsides. The more educated our motorists are, the more aware they are of current laws, their surroundings, and the more likely they are to make sound decisions. SF 2091 should help fill that gap in driver’s education.