HARRISBURG – Legislation sponsored by State Senator Doug Mastriano (R-33) and State Senator Kim Ward (R-39) to strengthen the state’s “Steer Clear Law” and better protect tow truck operators, law enforcement, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and other first responders was unanimously approved today by the Senate Transportation Committee.
In addition to adding stiffer penalties and raising public awareness, Senate Bill 1281 would rebrand the “Steer Clear Law” as the “Move Over Law” to clarify how motorists should react when approaching or passing an emergency response area. Examples of an emergency response area are when a police officer is conducting a routine traffic stop or when a tow truck operator is helping with a disabled vehicle
According to PA State Police, 7,075 citations were issued in 2018-2019 for “Steer Clear/Move Over” violations, in addition to 3,204 warnings.
“We have a problem in Pennsylvania,” said Mastriano. “This needs to end now. Our legislation is a multi-pronged strategy to save lives, and it starts with rebranding the law to send the message. It couldn’t be clearer: ‘Move Over’.”
Senate Bill 1281 would establish a new point system for a “Move Over” violation; double the fines for a summary offense; strengthen public awareness by requiring PennDOT to educate the public throughout the year; and implement a new speed restriction for drivers approaching an emergency response area.
“I want to emphasize an important message to every driver out there: ‘Move Over’ and slow down when you are approaching an emergency response area,” said Ward, who chairs the Senate Transportation Committee. “Our first responders are there for us in times of need, and now they need us to pass Senate Bill 1281.”
There are more than 350 reportable traffic crashes in Pennsylvania every day that put first responders in harm’s way. Already in 2020, 35 first responders have been killed nationwide while working roadside incidents.
Committee passage of Senate Bill 1281 came one day after a procession of first responders and rally outside the Capitol to urge enactment of the “Move Over Law”. The rally included the two bill sponsors, Senator John DiSanto (R-15) and fellow lawmakers, along with first responders who survived a roadside crash and family members of those killed in the line of duty.
Those on hand for Tuesday’s rally in support of Senate Bill 1281 included, but not limited to:
Fary Reyes, injured tow operator of Abel Brothers Towing, Malvern.
State Police Sgt. Bob Bemis (Ret.), struck March 27, 2015 on I-18 in Schuylkill County.
Michael Cox, Lionville Fire Company firefighter, struck March 9, 1998 on the PA Turnpike in Chester County, in a crash that killed firefighter David Good.
Brian Shockey and tow operator Dave Shockey, struck December 27, 2018 on 1-81 in Franklin County.
Monica San Felice, daughter of Michael San Felice, struck and killed October 22, 2012 on the PA Turnpike in Montgomery County.
Ruby Waltrous, sister of Ralph Waltrous, struck and killed September 7, 2017 09/07/2017 on Route 222 in Lancaster County.
Deb Laudenslager, mother of Tyler Laudenslager, struck and killed July 21, 2020 on I-78 in Berks County.
Mike Stangroom, Director of Operations, Rostraver West Newton EMS, whose member, Paramedic Matt Smelser, was struck and killed on January 5, 2020.
“The steeper fines and point assessment introduced in this legislation should act as a deterrent against offenders, while also providing another opportunity to educate drivers on the ‘Move Over Law’,” said Mastriano. “It is my hope that this legislative effort helps saves lives.”
You can view the Senate Transportation Committee meeting on Senate Bill 1281 and other measures here.
CONTACTS: Doug Zubeck, Senator Mastriano’s Office, email@example.com
Nolan Ritchie, Senator Kim Ward’s Office, firstname.lastname@example.org