Opinion

Move left for patrol vehicles

The Washington State Patrol is reminding drivers that state law requires them to slow down, and move left if safe, when passing emergency vehicles stopped beside the roadway.

Emergency vehicles include police cars, fire trucks, ambulances, tow trucks and highway maintenance vehicles with emergency lights activated.

The law went into effect in 2011, after a series of incidents involving not only police cars, but other emergency vehicles and the death of a tow truck driver.

This law couldn’t be easier to comply with. All you have to do is ease off the gas and, if it’s safe, ease to the left.

But use caution. We don’t want people making sudden maneuvers that could be even more dangerous.

Since the law went into effect, State Troopers have contacted more than 10,000 violators using a mix of education and enforcement to win compliance.

Troopers report that most drivers understand the reason for the law once it’s explained to them.

Although failure to move left is a traffic violation, if the behavior is egregious enough to endanger emergency workers the conduct becomes criminal, and can result in a jail sentence.

During the next few weeks, troopers statewide will be making an extra effort to contact violators they might observe in the course of other routine work.

We’ve asked them to keep a watchful eye on their fellow emergency workers, and take action when they observe a violation.

John R. Batiste

Washington State Patrol

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

Read the latest Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Oct 24 edition online now. Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates