Move Over Law – Not Working



Move Over Law – Not Working

moveover According to to a report posted on the Target 12 website, the recently passed Move Over law, requiring motorists to change lanes or at least slow down when passing an emergency vehicle, simply isn’t working.  Target 12

wired up a state police cruiser and went undercover to put the law to the test. We also had Trooper Jacques “pull over” one of our undercover cars on a local highway.

One car passed dangerously close to Trooper Jacques as he got out of his cruiser. A tractor trailer passed so close to our car that it rocked the hidden camera. And the trend continued, car after truck, blatantly ignoring the law.

Why does this matter?  If motorists don’t bother to obey a law, even when this law directly involves how they should interact with police, what makes anyone think they will head a 3-foot law for bicyclists?  Representative Gemma, Newberry, Fox, and Schadone have introduced such legislation (H7243), which would introduce something similar to other state 3-foot laws into our motor vehicle codes.  We worked with Representative Gemma last year to try and amend this 3-foot legislation into something, which we felt would be more effective, and will be doing so again this year.

The current bill is scheduled for a house hearing on Wednesday March 24th in the House Judiciary Committee.  We will release our revised suggestions prior to this hearing and may be asking for cyclists to come out in support of the changes.  Stay tuned…


  • Ted Lewandowski
    Mar 12, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    The problem is that you're dealing with drivers that finished dead last (50th place) in driver knowledge testing conducted by GMAC Insurance several years ago – so that is what you have on the roads – morons.

    Yes having a Statewide 3 Foot Law would be welcome but without education and most importantly enforcement it is meaningless.

  • barry
    Mar 13, 2010 at 8:40 am

    The lack of enforcement is discouraging. One hope is that if the law is tightened, the next generation of drivers will be better educated about it, and about safety in general.

    I also hope that a variation of H7243 will include some definite consequence for any motorist that actually strikes a bicyclist or other "vulnerable" road user – at the least a required attendance at a traffic safety training instead of the usual "no charges were filed"

    We also need to think about how to change the police/court culture to take the various kinds of reckless driving more seriously.

  • Labann
    Mar 14, 2010 at 4:22 am

    The root problem isn't in the law or enforcement, but in the adjudication. The courts fail to revoke licenses of multiple offenders. There is too much vested revenue interest in maintaining as many motorists as possible. Getting rid of a goodly proportion including DUIs and the incompetent would save more lives than any other measure you might contemplate.

    Think about it. Trying to avoid people who pass too closely without signals, swerve into breakdown lanes illegally, violate rights-of-way, stop control, and speeding laws on roads with too many narrow or shifting lanes: this makes every motorists less safe and more prone to accidents.

    The worst offenders seem to drive vehicles with Massachusetts plates. Enforcement in MA may be more lax, but that doesn't give them any right to abuse traffic laws here. If we remove more RI licensees, would that invite more out=of=state violators? Or would it make them easier to spot?

  • Labann
    Mar 14, 2010 at 7:55 am

    Also, I don't know why this site doesn't publish the appropriate points that Barry enumerated at the Pell Lecture. We all heard the last… "Ride your bike!" More should and would if encouraged by appropriate infrastructure improvements. Of the estimated 35,000 cyclists in RI, those avid among them who I surveyed said they avoided riding in Providence because of poor accommodations.

  • Bill Lewis
    Mar 14, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    I can say that my state rep, who is also my friend voted for it last year in committee and on the floor and he will do so again this year. I think the senate killed it last year in committe. And I agree that it will not help against close passers without a generation of drivers education,seeing as our schools are full of idiots it may take longer.

  • emily
    Mar 14, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    I dunno Labann, I think the utter lack of enforcement in RI makes drivers from all states fail to comply with laws of common sense. Have the police been issuing citations for texters? The cops in this state barely enforce standard moving violations. Sure there are poor, uh, 'accomodations' but spray painting bike lanes over the potholes isn't going to keep your average Providence motorist from having something so utterly pressing to do that they fail to operate their vehicles with basic courtesy. Of course there are other factors besides lack of enforcement. I drive from Providence to Kingstown regularly for work and everyday there are an astounding number of cars sidelined. I always move into another lane and often those driver behind me do the same. Sometimes it's as simple as personally enacting the rules so other people see that the laws are a reality and not some vague statement. But then again, nothing can help those who are predisposed to being douches.

  • Mar 15, 2010 at 4:51 am

    The root problem isn’t in the law or enforcement, but in the adjudication. The courts fail to revoke licenses of multiple offenders.

    I can't argue with the lack of adjudication, I've been shocked at how many people can get out of speeding and parking tickets, simply by showing up in court! How do we go about lobbing for a change though?

  • Labann
    Mar 15, 2010 at 5:40 am


    Trust me, officers do what they can given constraints. Texting is hard to prove. Seat belts, another mandatory compliance, is a "secondary" offense, that is, only enforceable if another law is violated first.

    But I don't think you got my point. Courts CAN suspend and revoke licenses of the bad actors, thus removing their bad example and ill effects.

    Part of the issue has to do with inefficient information transfer. Municipal courts hear cases and sentence offenders, generally just a small fine for city coffers. It would take STATE courts to accumulate repeat offenses and suspend accordingly. But verdicts don't wend their way from city to state.

    State is so broke it recently made it their policy that you can't register your car at the registry (!), must do it by mail, which is dealt with cheaper. So I doubt they are much interested in compiling offender data.