Community Voices

Crime Watch: Protect our first responders by obeying Florida’s ‘Move Over’ law

Carmen Gonzalez Caldwell
Carmen Gonzalez Caldwell

This past week I had to drive to Tampa, and once again people just don’t pay attention when driving, especially on Alligator Alley (Interstate 75). People with no seat belts on, drivers doing 80 or 90 mph.

And what can I say about parents who don’t have their children buckled up or the parent not wearing a seat belt? Folks, the Florida’s primary safety belt law took effect on June 30, 2009, so let’s get with the program. The life you save will be yours or your child’s.

But what really got me on this trip: seeing people drive so close to emergency units, police cars and highway patrol units without a care for safety.

So once again I hope to educate our readers on this most important “Move Over” law, for the safety of all first responders.

The law requires drivers to slow down or change lanes when an emergency vehicle is parked on the side of the road.

Here is a summary, courtesy of the state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles:

▪ If you are driving on a road with multiple lanes going in the same direction, and you approach an emergency vehicle parked along the roadway, you must vacate the lane closest to that vehicle as soon as it is safe to do so.

▪ If you are unable to move over safely, or if you are on a road with only one lane in each direction, you must slow down to a speed 20 mph below the speed limit, unless a law-enforcement officer tells you otherwise. If the speed limit is 20 mph, you must slow down to 5 mph.

If you don’t move over, the penalty is about $149, depending on the county, and three points on your license.

Please readers, forward this to everyone you know; the life you save may be of someone who is trying to save a life themselves.

Readers, I know that driving in Miami-Dade or anywhere can be a nightmare sometimes, but we really need to take into account that “cars” kill people and if everyone driving thinks of a car as a weapon, I am sure their driving habits would change. I hold my breath everyday on the Palmetto due to the “almost incidents” that occur in front of me.

So please take it slow and be aware of what is happening around you, and please let’s be courteous on the road.

Here is an interesting email I received from a reader regarding “not locking” their car:

“Dear Carmen, thank you for all the information you provide for our safety, but unfortunately not everyone listens.

“This past week several cars on my block were broken into. Well, they were left open. Our cameras showed several young men and women being dropped off at the beginning of our street around 2 in the morning. They all started to check to see which cars were open and they found several. What is frightening is that in three of the cars, the owners had their gun in the glove compartment, and we wonder how these kids in the street get guns.

“Please remind your readers not to leave their weapons in the car.”

— Amelia Kendall

Carmen Caldwell is executive director of Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade. Send feedback and news for this column to carmen@citizenscrimewatch.org, or call her at 305-470-1670.

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