Did you know that it’s illegal to stay in the right lane and continue at highway speed if you see a motorist pulled over on the shoulder on any Washington highway? You could be fined $214 if you don’t move into the left lane, or, if that’s not possible, slow down as you pass. Through tomorrow, Washington State Patrol is on the lookout for vehicles who don’t follow this law, called the “Move Over Law” because it has resulted in many accidents. The text of the law reads:
Approaching emergency zones — Penalty — Violation.
(1) The driver of any motor vehicle, upon approaching an emergency zone, which is defined as the adjacent lanes of the roadway two hundred feet before and after (a) a stationary authorized emergency vehicle that is making use of audible and/or visual signals meeting the requirements of RCW 46.37.190, (b) a tow truck that is making use of visual red lights meeting the requirements of RCW 46.37.196, (c) other vehicles providing roadside assistance that are making use of warning lights with three hundred sixty degree visibility, or (d) a police vehicle properly and lawfully displaying a flashing, blinking, or alternating emergency light or lights, shall:
(i) On a highway having four or more lanes, at least two of which are intended for traffic proceeding in the same direction as the approaching vehicle, proceed with caution and, if reasonable, with due regard for safety and traffic conditions, yield the right-of-way by making a lane change or moving away from the lane or shoulder occupied by the stationary authorized emergency vehicle or police vehicle;
(ii) On a highway having less than four lanes, proceed with caution, reduce the speed of the vehicle, and, if reasonable, with due regard for safety and traffic conditions, and under the rules of this chapter, yield the right-of-way by passing to the left at a safe distance and simultaneously yield the right-of-way to all vehicles traveling in the proper direction upon the highway; or
(iii) If changing lanes or moving away would be unreasonable or unsafe, proceed with due caution and reduce the speed of the vehicle.
(2) A person may not drive a vehicle in an emergency zone at a speed greater than the posted speed limit.
(3) A person found to be in violation of this section, or any infraction relating to speed restrictions in an emergency zone, must be assessed a monetary penalty equal to twice the penalty assessed under RCW 46.63.110. This penalty may not be waived, reduced, or suspended.
(4) A person who drives a vehicle in an emergency zone in such a manner as to endanger or be likely to endanger any emergency zone worker or property is guilty of reckless endangerment of emergency zone workers. A violation of this subsection is a gross misdemeanor punishable under chapter 9A.20 RCW.
(5) The department shall suspend for sixty days the driver’s license, permit to drive, or nonresident driving privilege of a person convicted of reckless endangerment of emergency zone workers.
Remember, if you are looking at your cell phone, your GPS, your sandwich, or anywhere that’s not the road in front of you, you won’t even see a vehicle on the side of the road. Here’s a heart-wrenching video about distracted driving that shows just how quickly this can happen.
When you’re driving, that is your only job.
Bill Coats is a personal injury attorney located in Bellingha, Washington who helps accident victims find fair, full compensation fast. All consultations are free, so please contact him to talk about your case, or call 360-303-0601 to reach Bill Coats Law.