Don’t move over? Lose four points
November 28, 2006
If you’re driving down a four-lane highway and see an emergency vehicle off to the side with its lights flashing – perhaps a police car on a traffic stop – what do you do?A) Speed up, stay in the lane you’re in and hope to sneak by without the cop seeing you or realizing how fast you’re going;B) Slow down, stay in the lane next to the shoulder and gawk, hoping to catch a glimpse of whatever mayhem has just occurred;C) Slow down, switch to the lane farthest from the shoulder and proceed with caution past whatever is happening.If you answered “C,” you get a gold star from the Colorado State Patrol and the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, and you don’t get a ticket charging you with reckless driving and involving a possible fine of more than $50 and four points against your driver’s license.Those are the penalties that go with a new state law, which the Colorado Legislature passed last summer, requiring motorists to switch lanes away from the shoulder when they come upon an emergency vehicle pulled over with its lights flashing.The law has already taken effect, and the Colorado State Patrol has been issuing tickets for a couple of months, according to Pitkin County Sheriff’s Deputy Brad Gibson.Colorado State Patrol Captain Rich Duran said there are circumstances when drivers cannot safely switch lanes, such as along Highway 82 where there is dense traffic congestion during rush hours. He said the CSP is not targeting highways 82 and 133 for enforcement of the new rules, and that “our biggest concern is mostly on I-70.”Duran said while the law applies to all highways and roads in the state, officers generally don’t target two-lane roads.Gibson said the county deputies have been stopping motorists who fail to shift lanes on Highway 82 but issuing only warnings so far, since few motorists are aware of the change.”We will eventually have to write the careless driving citations,” he said, although exactly when citations will be given is not certain.The new law, according to Gibson, “improves our safety, because people have to move away from us.” But it also acts to improve safety for the general public, he said.”If they see somebody with flashing lights by the side of the road, maybe they’ll move over anyhow,” even though no official emergency vehicle is in evidence.John Colson’s e-mail address is email@example.comThe Aspen Times, Aspen, Colo.