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'Slow down, move over': Troopers kick-off 3-day emphasis patrol on Wednesday

Troopers statewide will kick off a three-day crackdown Wednesday to get drivers to move over whenever they see emergency vehicles stopped on the side of the road with their lights on. (Photo: KOMO News)

SEATTLE -- Troopers statewide will kick off a three-day crackdown Wednesday to get drivers to move over whenever they see emergency vehicles stopped on the side of the road with their lights on.

The state's Move Over Law has been on the books for 10 years now. But troopers hear constantly from drivers who claim they don't even know the law exists, they said.


The Washington State Patrol released dashcam video of a driver who crashes into a patrol car that was stopped on the side of Interstate 5 on Nov. 10, 2016.

Images like those seen in the video haunt Joseph Armstrong, who remembers seeing a friend and fellow trooper get hit in a separate crash on Interstate 5 last year.

"It’s scary because it could be me. It could have been me," said Armstrong, who's been with the WSP for five years.

That’s why he’s constantly out educating drivers in King County about the importance of the state’s Move Over Law.

One driver he pulled over Tuesday passed by another trooper, who stopped an SUV on the side of Interstate 90.

"Just going to warn you today," Armstrong told the driver. "But just make sure if you see someone coming on that you move over."


The Move Over Law requires drivers to move over or change lanes, if they can, or slow down when they approach an emergency zone. An emergency zone is 200 feet before and after a police car, fire engine, ambulance or tow truck that's stopped on the road with its lights on.

"If you can’t get over, just slow down for us. And that gives us the same break that we’re looking for," Armstrong said.

That’s especially important with the current changes we're experiencing in the weather, which tend to lead to a rise in the number of patrol cars that are hit, Armstrong and the WSP said. Over the past two years, 24 troopers have been injured because of drivers who were violating the law.

Armstrong hopes his work to educate drivers about the rules helps prevent future injuries.

"Just a warning today, Ma'am," Armstrong told another driver he had pulled over on Interstate 90. "If you would have slowed down a little bit more, you would have had plenty of room to merge over."

Drivers caught violating the Move Over Law can face a $214 ticket, which can't be waived or reduced.

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