SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – There is a push for stricter penalties in Massachusetts for drivers who fail to change lanes for stopped tow truck drivers and first responders.
The state police are in full support of these changes, expressing frustration that many Massachusetts drivers are not following the Move Over Law and putting lives at risk.
“People don’t move over, they’re just driving right by and if you’re ever on the side of the road you know how fast they’re going. You can feel it, your car moves, and it shakes. Just imagine, you know, how they are feeling trying to just do their job and they can’t,” Haleigh Labruna of Belchertown said.
Working on a busy highway means your head is always on a swivel looking for drivers who are not paying attention or complying with the state’s Move Over Law.
Ben Scott, the Operations Manager for Red’s Towing told 22News, “A lot of times you can see people coming on their phones, looking at their phones as the car is crossing into the breakdown lane moving into the area where we are working. So there have been several close calls, myself included, I’ve had to jump a guardrail before.”
Passed in 2009, the Move Over Law, requires drivers to slow down and move into another lane when passing an emergency or maintenance vehicle with flashing lights stopped on the side of the road. Now there is a push to increase the fines drivers face for not complying.
The first offense would be a $250 fine, up from what it is now at $100. $500 dollars for a second offense, and a third offense would result in a fine of $1,000. If a violation resulted in injury, drivers face a fine of up to $2,500 or time in the House of Corrections.
Less than two weeks ago, two cruisers were struck while responding to a crash in Methuen.
In 2016, Trooper Thomas Clardy was killed on the Mass. Pike in Charlton. This proposed legislation is called the Thomas Devlin Bill, in honor of a trooper who was struck and killed in Billerica in 2018.
The bill is currently being reviewed by the Joint Committee on Transportation and if it gets a favorable report, it will move on to the next step in the legislative process.