I recently traveled to my parent's hometown of Victoria, Texas to visit my grandmother who had broken her hip. It was my desire to introduce her to three of the great-grandchildren she had yet to meet while she was still capable of visiting with them.
During my return to New Mexico, I was pulled over by one of Hudspeth County's finest sheriffs. And seriously, I am not being sarcastic here, I am truely grateful for this officer pulling me over. My infraction? "Failure to vacate lane or slow down." I was informed by the officer that there is a law in Texas (New Mexico and Oklahoma, that he knew) that says, "whenever there is an emergency vehicle pulled over on the side of the road, you must vacate the adjacent lane (ie. move to the farthest left lane) or if you cannot vacate the lane, you must slow the vehicle to no less than 20mph less than the posted speed limit." My mother and I were bewildered, neither of us had ever heard of this law, not surprising since we don't live in Texas, but even more surprised that there might be one on the books in NM that we didn't know about. There I was facing my first ticket for a law I didn't know about. I was informed that another Hudspeth sheriff had been hit by a vehicle failing to vacate and would no longer have the used of his legs! The officer asked me where I was going, where I was coming from and why had I been in Victoria, TX? When he returned from his vehicle, he announced that he was giving me a warning (my perfect **knock on wood** diving record in still standing) and that he had just lost his grandmother due to a broken hip.
So my mission: to inform as many people as possible of this law and what other states it involves. Not so that you can avoid a ticket, although that is a perk. But so that we can all better protect our officers and emergency personal who are already in enough danger as it is.
I found this link: http://www.respondersafety.com/Downloads/MoveOver/State_Move-Over_Law_Chart_July_2008.pdf which has a chart of all the states that currently have a "MOVE OVER" law on the books, some also include tow truck drivers. It also has links for each state so you can read the specifics of your state's law.
My co-workers (all state employees) had never heard of this law, so they are passing it on too.
Hopefully by being better informed drivers, we can all do our part to protect the lives of all our emergency personal including that sheriff in Hudspeth county, Texas. I'll be sending him a thank you note.