GOLDEN TRIANGLE, Miss. (WCBI) – It’s a little known law, designed to protect the people who patrol the highways, and those who need to get to an emergency in a hurry. For nearly a decade, Mississippians have been required to move over for law enforcement, ambulances, or fire trucks.
A few years ago, the law was amended to include utility and construction workers, allowing them right of way to get to an accident or disaster scene.
The law is put in place for safety, and emergency responders say it’s one that’s often broken, and can lead to dangerous situations.
The law is made to save lives.
“In this job, seconds count, and we have to slow down for people, and dodge traffic, and all of that, then that’s up to 10, 15, 20, even up to a minute that could have been delayed, and could be life or death,” says West Point Fire Chief, Ken Wilbourne.
When you’re driving down the road, and look up and see a sixty-thousand pound, red, firetruck in your review, all you have to do is this.
“Yield to the right for us if possible. If it’s a multi-lane intersection, if you could just move forward, and let us go around you, most of the time we are going to try to go to the left, and go around you, but if not, just make room so we can pass, and let us make the decision,” says Columbus Fire and Rescue Engineer, Marco Rodriguez.
Many emergency responders have lost their lives because drivers are not moving over.
In July, a Mississippi Highway Patrolman nearly died when his vehicle was struck on the side of the highway, that’s why Trooper Greg Bell says there needs to be more education about the law.
“Friday, I was working a wreck, myself and a couple of others troopers, and we, I had a vehicle that I was, you know, telling to get out of the right lane, flagging and flagging, and basically, had to jump in front of my patrol vehicle to avoid being moved, ran over.”
If you are pulled over, pull all the way off the road.
“A lot of motorists, when they pull off the shoulder, they’ll still remain part of the vehicle on the highway, which creates an unsafe situation for any worker approaching the vehicle, and so we will either urge the passenger over over a PA system to get further off the highway, or we’ll make a passenger side approach, which creates more safety for us,” says Bell.
Trooper Bell urges drivers to give extra room for anyone who is on the shoulder of the highway.