Jan. 17—Hoping to avoid crashes involving emergency vehicles, the Texas Department of Public Safety is informing the public of its "move over" campaign.
Emergency vehicles include patrol units, vehicles with the Texas Department of Transportation, EMS and tow trucks, DPS Sgt. John Gonzalez told the A-J on Tuesday.
"In the coming weeks, troopers will be enforcing the 'move over' law," he said, "and that's why we're campaigning and warning the motorists that if they see activated lights on these vehicles that they should either move over or slow down. We want to, out of respect, encourage people to practice this."
Gonzalez said penalties vary for violations of the state law requiring drivers to move over a lane if there are emergency vehicles on the side of the road. He said penalties can be up to $200 for a written citation, $500 if property is damaged and possibly charges or an arrest for any injuries as the result of a crash.
"In the recent months and years, we've seen many trooper vehicles crashed into because people don't slow down or move over," said Gonzalez.
He said if there are cases when people are attempting to move into the right lane if seeing emergency lights activated, that drivers who can't move over a lane should slow down to 20 mph less than the speed limit.
"Again, this is a law," said Gonzalez, "and this is to protect the first responders and those folks that are working on the shoulder of the roadway or off the roadway, helping the local community to help those first and protect them."
He said the law aims to help first responders do their jobs and avoid being involved in a crash.
"We're just encouraging people to practice defense driving, be vigilant," he said. "Pay attention to those types of laws that are out there on the roadway for their protection, as well as our protection."