January is “Move Over Month” and law enforcement agencies across the First Coast are reminding drivers to move over for emergency and service vehicles.
Florida law requires drivers to move over as soon as safely possible for any authorized law enforcement, emergency or service vehicles displaying any visible signals, such as flashing lights, while stopped on the side of the road. If a driver is unable to safely move over, they must slow down to 20 miles per hour slower than the posted speed limit.
Florida Highway Patrol, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and Clay County Sheriff’s Office representatives gathered Wednesday to urge drivers to follow the law for their own safety, the safety of first responders and the safety of the general public.
“It’s always in the back of your mind that these events can occur,” Florida Highway Patrol Captain Michael Dubois said of incidents where cars have crashed into first responders on the side of the road. “Myself, I’ve had them. On Interstate 95 near Lem Turner Road, I’ve had to jump the guardrail to avoid a vehicle that was coming just inside the emergency lane.”
According to data from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, in 2018 there were 231 crashes and nearly 17,000 citations issued statewide for drivers failing to move over. In Duval County, there were 14 crashes and 663 citations.
Master Sergeant Dylan Bryan told First Coast News he has had many close calls in his 18 years with FHP.
“Down along the Buckman Bridge working a crash with my zone partner at the time,” Sgt. Bryan recalled. “I’ll never forget, a tractor trailer did not move over in the proper fashion and subsequently lost control.”
That’s why spreading awareness of the law is key. Sgt. Bryan pulled over a driver after they failed to move over for a crew working on a guardrail on I-295.
While a “move over” violation can cost a driver three points on their license, Sgt. Bryan let the driver off with a verbal warning. He said in this case, education is more valuable.
“That driver is definitely aware of what they did wrong, that driver is definitely aware of the responsibility he has behind the wheel of that vehicle now and will be able to pass that along to other people,” Sgt. Bryan said.