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EFR: Drivers need to pull to the right, stop for emergency vehicles

As the communities we live in continue to grow, so does the traffic and the number of vehicles on the road.

Valley drivers can be frustrated by the traffic in our growing cities and towns even on a good day, but have you thought about how difficult it can be for your emergency services personnel? Eastside Fire & Rescue reminds drivers of the importance of moving to the right and stop when fire or police emergency vehicles are headed their way. While many drivers do pull to the right, more and more often, drivers don't comply with this important safety measure.

On January 1, the “Move Over” Law was enhanced to define the area around an emergency or assistance vehicle, which includes tow trucks and state Department of Transportation vehicles, as an “Emergency Zone." In the past, the law simply directed the motoring public to safely move over to an adjacent lane when approaching a stationary emergency vehicle. The new law creates a buffer zone around stopped emergency vehicles.

The Washington State Patrol has had approximately 80 patrol cars hit over the last couple of years in what is now considered the emergency zone. In general, safely pulling over to the shoulder will allow the emergency apparatus to proceed down the middle of the roadway. While not all roads allow a driver to pull safely to the shoulder, drivers are asked to be cautious and move to the right as soon as possible, and for stationary emergency vehicles, allow for the emergency buffer zone for safety.

For more information on the Emergency Zone Law, visit http://www.wsp.wa.gov/traveler/roadrules.htm

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