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What is Wisconsin’s move over law?

As it happens, Wisconsin's move over law is also the state's Department of Transportation January law of the month. With winter weather often creating dangerous driving on our highways and two-lane roads, it's an appropriate time of year to think about how this law might prevent personal injury or worse for travelers.

The gist of the directive is that drivers must provide a safety zone for stopped law enforcement, emergency vehicles and other cars or trucks that are stopped on the side of the road. With slippery pavement and other winter-related causes for vehicles to be stopped or stuck, Wisconsin State Patrol officers chose to feature this law as a reminder that drivers have a legal and moral responsibility to help protect anyone who has to work beside fast-moving vehicles.

Car, motorcycle or truck accidents, especially in the winter, can have devastating consequences. Shifting lanes if possible, or if not, slowing down when approaching a stopped patrol car, ambulance, fire truck, tow truck, highway maintenance or utility vehicle stopped to the side is required of all drivers. It is specified that their warning lights must be flashing. You must vacate the lane closest to the stopped vehicle on interstates or multi-directional divided roads.

A citation with a fine $263.50 and three demerit points added to a driver's license is the cost of violating this law. But that isn't to take into account the tremendous cost to someone who is injured because a driver didn't do what he or she was required to do. Law enforcement officers, for example, suffer more fatalities because of motor vehicle crashes while on duty than for any other reason.

Source: Wisconsin Department of Transportation, "Move Over Law" accessed Jan. 29, 2015

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