WASHINGTON – Maryland State Police are cracking down on drivers who fail to move over or slow down for emergency vehicles.
The state’s law requires that motorists move over to an available lane — or slow down if it’s not safe to move over — when approaching police cars, fire vehicles or ambulances with their lights flashing on the side of the road.
Virginia also has a move over/slow down law that is broader than Maryland’s and features higher fines.
Maryland’s crackdown follows three accidents this month involving police vehicles. On Oct. 6, Maryland State Police Trooper Jacqueline Kline was struck and critically injured by a passing vehicle. She remains in serious condition.
Six days later, a trooper’s patrol car on the side of the road was destroyed in a crash. Yet another motorist plowed into another state police car last weekend.
“We’ve had some tragedies in the state police in the last couple of weeks,” state police spokesman Greg Shipley says.
Police warn that special enforcement operations will be active across the state. Troopers will be writing tickets to drivers who fail to give emergency workers space.
“This law is out there and it’s intended to help keep our emergency workers safe,” Shipley says.
A violation is a primary offense and could mean a fine of $110 and one point. If the violation involves death or serious injury, the fine can rise to $750.
Virginia’s law was implemented in 2002 and expanded in 2010 to include vehicles flashing amber lights — meaning tow trucks, safety assistance vehicles and highway maintenance vehicles.
“It’s a lifesaving law,” says Virginia State Police spokeswoman Deborah Cox. “It’s meant to save the lives of those who are there to protect and to help.”
In Virginia, a violation can result in a $250 fine. In some cases, it can be punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor with a 12-month jail sentence.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter.