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'Move over' law gets serious

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Published on Thursday, March 2, 2006
in the Miami Herald

FHP troopers are cracking down on drivers who don't heed the state's 'move over' law meant to protect officers issuing tickets on the side of the road.

South Florida drivers who don't ''move over'' when they see the flashing lights of a law enforcement officer or medic working on the roadside may find themselves in trouble this week.

While some troopers are stopping speeders on several freeways across the region, others will be lurking on nearby overpasses ready to target motorists who don't vacate the lane closest to the shoulder where officers have the speeders stopped.

''People are not aware of the move-over law, or they are completely ignoring it,'' Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Pat Santangelo said of the legislation passed in 2002.

Here's how the project is going to work in Miami-Dade today and Friday, Santangelo explained:

A trooper in an airplane will be clocking speeders, who then will be stopped by troopers in patrol cars or motorcycles. From nearby overpasses, another trooper with a laser speed gun will be watching the lane closest to the troopers writing tickets.

When the second trooper spots someone not moving over or, if moving is not possible, slowing down to 20 miles under the speed limit, other troopers will be waiting down the road to pull over that offender.

Santangelo said one of the areas where troopers will be working is the Don Shula Expressway (State Road 874) in Southwest Miami-Dade.

In Broward, troopers will spend today concentrating on speeders, and on Friday will be working on I-75 near Royal Palm Boulevard with a combined speed and ''move-over'' enforcement, said FHP Sgt. Mark Wysocky.

Since 2001, there have been an average of more than 700 crashes a year in which someone hits a law enforcement vehicle stopped on the roadside or slowing down to stop, resulting in an average of more than 300 injuries a year. Since 2001, there have been at least three people killed in Florida in such crashes. Broward sheriff's deputy Ryan Seguin, 23, was killed Feb. 15 when he was hit by a car while making a traffic stop on the westbound lanes of Interstate 595.

''Nationwide, more officers are being killed by motor vehicles than by bullets,'' said Maj. Ernie Duarte, the FHP's chief spokesman in Tallahassee.

``We are urging people to help protect those who are protecting you.''


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