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 drivers, law enforcement and other first responders received a unanimous vote today from the House Transportation Committee.
As a result, the bipartisan bill now advances to the full House of Representatives for consideration.
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.
“This is a multi-pronged strategy to save lives, and it starts with rebranding the law to send the message,” said Mastriano. “We owe it to our first responders to get this bill to the Governor’s desk.”
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 new requirements for drivers approaching an emergency response area.
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. Already in 2020, 35 first responders have been killed nationwide while working roadside incidents: 17 tow operators/mechanics or Department of Transportation workers, 12 law enforcement officers and three fire/EMS personnel.
Earlier this month, Mastriano and Ward – chairwoman of the Senate Transportation Committee – organized a procession of first responders and rally outside the Capitol, in an effort to urge enactment of the Move Over legislation. The rally included co-sponsor Senator John DiSanto (R-15) and fellow lawmakers, along with first responders injured in roadside crashes and family members of those killed.
“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.”