Move Over For Flashing Lights

West Richland police are asking drivers from everywhere to pull over if they see flashing lights.

And if you don’t–it’s going to cost you. A lot.

A ticket for failing to yield to an emergency vehicle of any kind will set you back $1062 in Washington. If law enforcement can’t get your attention with their enacted laws, awareness campaigns, or eye-catching light shows–they’ll hit you in the wallet. You’ll think twice before making the same mistake again!

It’ll Only Take a Few Seconds

West Richland Police Officer Daniel Grimes says that the slow response from oncoming drivers is happening more often then they would like to see. Drivers need to pull off to the right as soon as they see the flashing lights. Slowing down or just going to another lane will be grounds for a citation.

Officer Grimes stated, “We’re trying to get there at a high rate of speed, but we’re trying to do so in a safe and effective manner. We don’t want to cause an accident, and if we can’t get there, we can’t be much good. Let us by, and you can go about your day. It only takes a few seconds.”

What may be surprising for some drivers is that the law applies to drivers on both sides of the road if there’s not a cement barrier between the lanes. 

Move Over for First Responders

Motorists have struck and killed more than 150 on-the-job law enforcement officers since 1999. The “Move Over America” campaign was originally founded in 2007 by a partnership of the National Safety Commission, the National Sheriff’s Association and the National Association of Police Organizations. The liaison between these organizers was an effort to bring national awareness to how first responders, law enforcement, and transportation workers put their lives on the line every day on our busy roadways.

It’s the Law

Washington State Law states that any vehicle that approaches or is approached by an emergency vehicle with audible and visual signals shall immediately yield the right-of-way. In addition, they will position themselves parallel to or as close as possible to the right-hand edge or curb of the roadway, thereby clearing the lanes for authorized emergency vehicles to pass. Also, the passenger vehicles shall not move or continue until the emergency vehicles have passed.

According to a national poll by Mason Dixon Polling & Research, sponsored by the National Safety Commission:

  • 71 percent of Americans have not heard of “Move Over” laws
  • 86 percent support enacting “Move Over” laws in all 50 states
  • 90 percent believe traffic stops and roadside emergencies are dangerous for law enforcement and first responders

Heroes on the Front Lines

The original Move Over Law was passed in 2007 in an effort to protect emergency workers on the highways. Accidents, clean-up, traffic patrol, break-downs–these types of incidents never occur in safe and protected locations. Those who respond and put their lives on the lines for somebody else is a true hero. They deserve to have protective governance while they work hard to protect our communities.

Despite the law being active for over a decade now, the number of collisions involving emergency vehicles has only increased.

Know the Zone

In 2010, a revision of the law was made to include an “Emergency Zone”. The law defines the “Emergency Zone” as the 200-foot area before and after the site where a stationary emergency vehicle with flashing lights is located. These vehicles include all law enforcement vehicles, fire trucks, tow trucks, ambulances or emergency care technicians, Department of Transportation workers, and highway construction projects.


If a motorist is stopped by law enforcement for violating the Emergency Zone Law, they could receive a ticket. The penalty for the infraction is a monetary fine set by the state’s legislature. Washington is serious about protecting their civil servants and the fine reflects it well–$1062.  You could receive a fine for any of the following:

  • Fine for exceeding the posted speed limits are doubled in Emergency Zones
  • Fines are also doubled if there is a failure to move over or slow down in an Emergency Zone
  • Motorists could be charged with Reckless Endangerment if driving in a manner as to endanger any emergency worker.
  • If convicted of Reckless Endangerment, you could have your driver’s license suspended for 90 days.

The Steps You Should Take

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provides a set of steps under the acronym SIREN to help drivers remember what to do in this situation. The SIREN protocol is as follows:

  • Stay Alert

    A responsible driver should be aware of their surroundings at all times, including being able to hear emergency vehicle sirens and horns. Operating a motor vehicle is not the time to put the headphones in and tune out. It’s an important part of awareness of what’s going on around you. It may even mean keeping the music down in your car. When you hear an emergency vehicle’s sirens, look to see where it is coming from on the road.

  • Investigate

    Look in your rearview mirror as well as to the sides of your car to determine how fast the emergency vehicle is going and to figure out what you will do next.

  • React

    It’s the Law–pull over to the side of the road safely, signaling as you do so to alert the driver of the emergency vehicle of your intentions. Though it’s important to react quickly, you shouldn’t put yourself or anyone else in danger. After pulling over, wait until the emergency vehicle has passed, and look for others—there may be more than one on the way.

  • Enter

    After the emergency vehicles have passed, you can re-enter the roadway. Be sure it is safe for you to get back on the road, remembering to signal before merging with traffic. If you are on the side of the highway, be extra careful as you will need to get up to freeway speeds.

  • Never

    Don’t pull over or stop somewhere if there isn’t enough room for you to do so safely. You should also never follow an emergency vehicle or try to pass one. Remain a minimum of 500 feet behind a moving emergency vehicle that has its lights and siren on.

Our Auto Accident & Personal Injury Lawyers Are Here to Help You

Being struck by a car can cause serious and life-threatening injuries. Most accident victims not only need excellent medical care, but a skilled and experienced personal attorney, to help manage the road to recovery.

If you or a loved one has been in an auto accident or hit by a negligent driver, contact Fielding Law Group for a free legal consultation today.  Our team of professionals know your legal options and can get right to work on helping you get the care, compensation and settlement you are entitled to. Our trusted attorneys are with you every step of the way. Remember–Don’t let an accident wreck YOU!  We are here to help you get your life back.