Public Reminded Slow Down, Move Over Ahead of 4th of July

Public Reminded Slow Down, Move Over Ahead of 4th of July

Jul 2, 2024

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Boy oh boy is it going to be a busy week for travelers. So before you travel, it’s important to be reminded about Virginia’s Slow Down, Move Over law.

There are more than 2.1 million Virginians expected to travel over the Fourth of July. On Tuesday, AAA Tidewater hosted a press conference with local leaders to encourage people to abide by the Slow Down, Move Over law.

“Remember the safety of others can very much depend on your actions,” said Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer.

The law is personal for Melanie Clark. She lost her husband Brad on October 11, 2018. Brad, a firefighter, was responding to a vehicle emergency on I-295 during Tropical Storm Michael when he was struck and killed by a tractor-trailer.

“He was able to yell out a warning for his crew, which saved their lives. But unfortunately, in those critical seconds, it cost him his own,” Clark told News 3.

At the press conference, Clark said that since her husband’s death, she’s made it her mission to improve safety on the roads.

“If the tractor-trailer was in the appropriate lanes, this would’ve never happened,” she said.

The law itself is pretty self explanatory. Drivers must either slow down or move over a lane when they see vehicles stopped in the road with indicators like flashing lights and caution signs. The law was recently expanded to not just account for firefighters and police, but tow truck drivers as well.

Drivers who don’t abide by the law can now face a reckless driving charge. Under the prior law, a first offense failure to move over for emergency vehicles was punishable by a $250 fine. But now, convicted drivers face a class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail, a $2,500 fine and a suspended driver’s license for up to one year if it results in damage to a person’s property.

If it results in injury or death to another person, that license could be suspended for up to two years.

“All the time, there’s close calls. We’ve had fire apparatus hit. We’ve had significant damage to our firetrucks by people being distracted and driving into the back of a firetruck,” said Virginia Beach Fire Chief Kenneth Pravetz.

To give drivers a little help, AAA will be partnering with the HAAS Alert system moving forward. The Safety Cloud technology developed by HAAS Alert allows drivers who are using a 2018 or newer Jeep, Dodge, Ram or Chrysler vehicle to get notified by their navigation system if a vehicle is broken down in an unsafe location.

The tech also works for drivers of other vehicles who use the Apple Maps or Waze apps. This allows drivers to be aware of the incident before they reach it.

“That minor inconvenience, that five minutes or whatever it costs you to do the right thing, trust me, is small in comparison to losing a loved one forever,” said Clark.

The Vice President of Communication and Public Policy for HAAS, Brock Aun, confirmed the company is looking to expand to more vehicles in the future.

News 3 conducted an interview with HAAS Alert. We will have a story all about the technology and how it can help keep everyone on the roads safe later in the week.

This article was originally published by Conor Hollingsworth at WTKR News