DICKSON, Tenn. (WTVF) — The "move over" law has been on the books in Tennessee for 15 years but law enforcement officials say every year they have to remind drivers to move over and slow down.
The law passed in 2006 as part of the "failure to yield to emergency vehicles" law and requires drivers to move over into the adjacent lane of traffic when safe to do so, or alternatively slow down for emergency vehicles.
In 2011, the law was expanded to include utility service equipment to the list of vehicles and again in 2017 by requiring drivers to move over for any stopped vehicle with flashing lights.
"About a month in a half or so ago, we had three cars total two different scenes. One scene where there was one sideswipe of a deputy on the interstate," said Dickson County Sheriff Tim Eads. "The other two deputies, the vehicle crashed into the back of one of the deputies car knocked it into the other patrol unit totaled it."
Eads now has three of his patrol cars out of service.
"The higher your speed is the less time you got to react and avoid, you know, a crash that could change your life or somebody else's life forever," he said.
Eads says if you can't move over — slow down.
"Turn your flashers on slow, way, way down. So, if somebody steps out in front of you, you have plenty of time to react and stop and understand when you're going through a scene or you're approaching the vehicle," Eads said.
Tennessee became the 30th state to establish a move over law, which creates a safety zone to protect police, firefighters, other emergency personnel, and utility workers. This was after Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper Todd Larkins was struck and killed by a tractor-trailer while stopped on the side of Interstate 40 in Dickson County in 2005.
Just this week, two Tennessee Department of Transportation contracted work trucks were hit by drivers not moving over.
A TDOT spokesperson says the wrecks happened in just two days, the first being being on Monday. A distracted driver hit a Vulcan Materials truck in Spring Hill and on Wednesday night and a driver rear-ended a C&D safety truck in Nashville.
"The big thing drivers need to understand that, while they might feel safe in their vehicle, people that are outside of their vehicle, do not feel safe when you don't slow down enough get over," Eads said.
The penalty for violating the "Move Over Law" in Tennessee is a maximum fine of up to $500 and possibly up to 30 days in jail.