'Move Over' for Flashing Lights

Posted at: 11/29/2012 6:12 PM
Updated at: 11/29/2012 6:39 PM
By: Maarja Anderson

Winter weather is here and with it comes slick roads and more accidents in the Northland. More accidents on the roadways, means more emergency vehicles on the roads with flashing lights. Drivers are required to "move over" for flashing lights, including for tow trucks.

"People are whizzing past your head at 70 miles per hour and just not paying attention," said tow truck driver Kirk Schaefer. "Which if they just slowed down 10, 15 miles per hour and moved over 5 feet, I'd feel a lot safer."

Schaefer drives a tow truck for USA Towing and Recovery out of Proctor, MN. He says he can't even count how many times he has nearly been hit by a driver while trying to do his job. Winter time is also the busiest time of the year for his job.

"Not a lot of people pay attention to the law and they're driving at high speeds and putting our lives in danger while we are trying to help others," said Schaefer.

Both Minnesota and Wisconsin have 'Move Over' laws that include tow trucks. Flashing lights, whether they're on an ambulance, police car, fire engine, or tow truck, means one thing: move over. According to Minnesota law, on roadways with multiple lanes, drivers must keep over one full lane from stopped emergency vehicles with flashing lights. If it's unsafe to move over a lane, drivers should slow down.

This summer, law enforcement agencies across the state increased education and enforcement of the 'Move Over Law.'

"Officers are killed all the time by passing motorists that aren't paying attention, that are on their cell phones, that are under the influence of something," said Sergeant Mark Gunderson of the Hermantown Police Department.

But along with winter comes slick roads and it's more important than ever to watch for flashing lights.

"Just slow down, plain and simple," said Schaefer. "It's really not tough."