OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma is cracking down on drivers who don’t follow the state’s “Slow Down, Move Over” laws.
“These are people with families. Their lives are at stake. Their lives are on our shoulders,” said Riley Fletcher, a AAA Oklahoma Spokeswoman.
During a press conference Thursday morning, lawmakers said in their eyes, the rule is common sense.
“On the side of a highway if you see any car with hazard lights flashing… You are required by state law to slow down or move over,” explained House Rep. Neil Hays, R-Muskogee. “The law not only protects first responders, second responders, Department of Transportation, Turnpike Authority, it actually protects you on the side of the highway.”
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, between 2015 and 2021, more than 1,600 people were hit and killed in the U.S. while outside of a disabled vehicle.
“Nearly a quarter of those surveyed are unaware of move over laws in their state,” said Fletcher.
AAA said tow truck operators are at extreme risk, with 24 such deaths annually.
Representative Hays said for him, it’s personal because of a tragedy in November of last year.
“John Mills in my district, passed away as a tow truck operator doing his job,” said Rep. Hays.
Right now, OHP said if drivers don’t slow down or move over, the fine is $249.
However, the new law means, starting Nov. 1, that fine goes up to $1,000 for the first offense. The fine climbs to $2,500 for additional violations.
Lawmakers at Thursday’s event added if a driver doesn’t move over or slow down and an emergency worker gets injured, the driver could pay up to $5,000 in fines. If the emergency worker dies, the fine could jump to $10,000.