By Tamas Mondovics

Engaging in targeted enforcement of the Move Over Act, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) working with Florida Highway Patrol and the Tampa Police Department stepped up its efforts to remind motorists of obeying the important but, if ignored, potentially fatal traffic law often unheeded by many.

The operation, which took place earlier this month, focused on traffic along the Selmon Expressway.

“It is hoped that through aggressive enforcement we will raise awareness, improve safety and reduce the risks to the personnel we require to investigate crashes, enforce traffic laws, and keep our traffic corridors flowing for everyone’s benefit,” said HCSO spokesperson Larry McKinnon.

In a recent statement, the department reminded residents that law enforcement, firemen, paramedics and road rangers on occasion are expected to put themselves in harm’s way.

The release stated, “The first responder’s job is to confront dangerous situations; they take risks to make situations safer for all of us. One of the most dangerous circumstances for first responders is when their duties place them in close proximity to traffic. The Move Over Act is a law enacted to minimize the danger first responders and emergency personnel face when stopped alongside the flow of traffic.”

Area motorists are to keep in mind that Florida Statutes require drivers approaching parked emergency vehicles with visual signals activated, to “Move Over” or vacate the lane closest to the emergency vehicle on an interstate or highway with two or more lanes in the same direction (316.126 (1) (b) (1).

The Statutes continues by saying that otherwise the driver is required to slow to a speed that is 20 miles per hour less than the posted speed – and if the posted speed is 25 mph or less, the driver must slow to 5 miles per hour on a two lane road (316.126 (1) (b) (2).

The civil penalty for this moving violation is $150.

McKinnon emphasized that the law was created because there are a lot of accidents and injuries on the side of Florida highways and roads.

According to a recent report by National Traffic Incident Management Network, five firefighters are struck each year, while one police each month, one tow-truck operator per week and one road worker every three days.

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