Keeping Emergency Responders Safe Hundreds of Citizen Contacts During “Move Over Law” Enforcement

Denver area law enforcement agencies contacted nearly 300 drivers as part of a multi-jurisdictional effort to ensure drivers are following "move over" laws to protect emergency responders during the week of September 26, 2011.

The Colorado State Patrol, Jefferson County Sheriff's Office and the Arvada and Wheat Ridge police departments operated six hours of multi-jurisdictional patrol on I-70 as part of the awareness campaign. More than 130 summonses were issued during the operation

"A consistent theme during the enforcement effort was drivers not knowing the move over law for Colorado, so it shows the importance of a campaign such as this to educate our community," said Sgt. Kelly Sheehan of the Arvada Police Department. "By bringing attention to this issue, it could make a difference in saving the life of an officer during a future traffic stop."

A national law enforcement organization compiled statistics that showed an average of one officer a month was struck and killed for the 17-year period between 1993 and 2009.

Colorado has laws in place requiring drivers to yield the right of way to all emergency vehicles operating with lights and/or sirens. Drivers must pull to the right side of the road and stop until the emergency vehicle passes. Violators of this law can be subject to a ticket.

What if a police officer is on a traffic stop on the right side of the road? If a police officer is out of their patrol car making a traffic stop, or if other emergency responders are on the side of the road (including tow truck operators), the driver must move over one lane (if available) when approaching a stationary emergency vehicle with its emergency lights activated. If there is not another lane due to traffic, weather, roadway design, etc., the driver must reduce his/her vehicle to a safe speed while passing the emergency vehicle.

Violators of this law can be written for 42-4-705 (2) (b) or (c) Failing to yield right of way to a stationary emergency vehicle.