LIMA — The Ohio General Assembly passed Senate Bill 137, a measure designed to expand on Ohio’s current “Move Over Law.”
The law, as worded before, required motorists to slow down and move to an adjacent lane, if possible, when approaching police, fire or other emergency vehicles parked on the side of the road. With this new law in place, that same requirement has been extended to construction, maintenance and public utilities commission vehicles parked on the roadside with flashing or oscillating lights in use.
“The expanded Move Over Law is a critical step to improving the safety of our workers, who risk their lives and well-being every day to care for the excellent transportation system the citizens of Ohio have come to expect,” Jerry Wray, director of the Ohio Department of Transportation, said in a statement Wednesday. “We at ODOT are tremendously grateful to Governor Kasich and the General Assembly for acting to protect our people.”
The expansion to the “Move Over Law” had input from mombers of ODOT as well as the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission, both agencies having workers hit by vehicles on state higways in the past. In fact, more than 600 collisions involving ODOT vehicles and equipment have occurred on Ohio roadways since 2008.
When it comes to traffic on local roadways, most drivers seem to respect the law when it comes to emergency vehicles on the roadways. According to Sgt. Matt Schmenk of the Lima post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, most drivers are good at respecting emergency vehicles on roadways, but there are still areas for improvement.
“Normally, we don’t have too many problems with emergency vehicles,” he said. “Most of the time, people will recognize them and move over. However, if there’s someone on the side of the road changing a tire, they don’t typically move over. It’s not required, but it’s nice to do. Of course, many times they don’t move over because they don’t see them until they’re right on top of them. But the same thing can apply to construction or maintenance workers.”
“For the most part, when people see the lights, they get over,” said Capt. Bill Stippich of the Bath Township Fire Department. “I think more people are getting aware of it and they’re getting used to it now. That expansion will really help, because when drivers see fire trucks and ambulances, it’s one thing, but when they see ODOT on the side of the road, it’s a different story. Drivers don’t usually move over for those guys. Hopefully this will help keep everybody safer.”