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36 motorists stopped during a traffic safety detail (PA)


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36 motorists stopped during a traffic safety detail on Route 422 in Exeter Township

 

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A sign reading "Move Over" flashed Wednesday night at Route 422 and Shelbourne Road in Exeter Township.

 

About a half-mile up the road, a tow truck with flashing yellow lights was parked on the eastbound shoulder in the right turn lane at Shelbourne Road near McDonald’s. It was assisting a disabled car.

 

Fast-moving trucks and cars were driving past the tow truck.

 

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Four Exeter police cars were nearby, stopping vehicles that did not move into the left lane to provide a cushion for the tow-truck driver to clear the simulated emergency. 

 

Between 7 and 10 p.m., 36 motorists were stopped by Exeter police and notified of the new Move Over law.

 

Exeter Sgt. Sean Fullerton said the purpose of the detail was to educate motorists of the new law and the need to provide a cushion for first responders and emergency workers to safely perform their work.

 

“Many motorists are not aware of the law,” Fullerton said. “We see a lot of aggressive and reckless driving on Route 422. Only people who absolutely failed to move over were stopped.”

 

Fullerton said that, nationwide, 44 first responders were fatally injured by vehicles in 2019, according to the Emergency Responder Safety Institute.

 

Gov. Tom Wolf signed the new law on Oct. 29 in the wake of an increase of fatal accidents at emergency response scenes, including the July 26 death of a tow-truck driver on Interstate 78 in Bethel Township.

 

Tyler A. Laudenslager, 29, of Halifax, Dauphin County, was killed while assisting a disabled vehicle on Interstate 78.

 

The new law, which is a rebranding of the 2006 Steer Clear law, requires motorists to move over to an adjacent lane at an emergency response area, and if that is not possible, to slow down to a speed of no more than 20 mph less than the posted speed limit.

 

Motorists are fined $500 for the first offense, $1,000 for the second offense, and $2,000 for the third offense. The charge is known as violation of duty of the driver in an emergency response area. 

 

The emergency workers will report to police the license number of the vehicle that violated the law. The police will then determine if a citation is warranted.

 

The law also requires law enforcement to educate the public about the change.

 

Wednesday's detail was sponsored by the Berks County DUI Task Force, including Exeter police; AAA Highway Safety Network and PennDOT.

 

Cheryl Gouker, spokeswoman for AAA Reading-Berks, based in Wyomissing, said motorists have a responsibility to  avoid putting those who are working to save lives at risk while working close to traffic.

 

Gouker’s husband, Ed Gouker, automotive service manager at Reading-Berks AAA, was in the tow truck during the detail.

 

 Ed Gouker said the drill worked out well.

 

“We want to increase awareness that people need to move over,” he said.

 

“People have to pay attention,” he said. “The 36 people who were stopped will let people know about the Move Over law. Move over. It’s the law.”

 

The location of the detail was part of a roughly 1-mile stretch of Route 422 from Gibraltar Road to Shelbourne Road, which had the highest number of vehicle crashes in 2019 in Berks County, according to PennDOT.

 

There were 54 reported accidents on the stretch, including 30 at the Shelbourne intersection and 12 each at the intersections of Lincoln Road and Gibraltar Road.

 

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Thanks Ron for sharing this article. But, looking at the narrative, this single piece speaks of a bigger problem when LE admits, “We see a lot of aggressive and reckless driving on Route 422". That's consisternt with any and all highways where what "We see" isn't "We cite". To me there's a vast difference in the way to change bad driving behaviors.

 

It's about time LE makes a concentrated effort with special enforcement. While the tally of 36-cars is a drop in the proverbial bucket ... it's a start. It only took them 14-years to recognize the importance of SDMO. And, I question whether or not Exeter's enforcement was in the form of a $500 ticket versus that of a verbal warning. To make a solid example for all motorists to see is to write citations. Ultimately, the dollars generated by SDMO violations and citations then can be use to appropriately fund more traffic safety details like this one. I salute their efforts and hope to see more.       R.

Edited by rreschran

Randall C. Resch

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Addressing the SDMO should be no different from the efforts made to get motorist to wear their seat belt. While every life matters, those not wearing seat belts are killing themselves. Those not slowing down and moving over when possible are killing others.

 

The exact number of signs about Click or Ticket should be up for SDMO or pay a Huge Fine! These fines seem to range from $300 to $2000 across the country, yet in many states not one motorist cited has paid that citation fine. They all have appeared in court and plead ignorance to the law. Claiming it's a new law and they did not know. My reply is "You have a drivers license, it is your responsibly in maintaining that privilege to operate a motor vehicle is to keep up with changes and laws".. So many do not feel that is their responsibility, just as it is not their responsibility to slow down and move over when they see emergency/warning lights. 

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Your comments Ron are 100-percent spot-on. Having been a motor cop, traffic investigator and a DUI enforcement team member, the whole process starts by LE writing citations. When the motorist goes to court, officers generally are present to testify and (hopefully) provide a solid explaination of what the move-over law means in-relation to the thousands of first-responders, tow operators and highway workers represent. That include showing the law to the judge and providing a list of names of firs responders killed.

 

Example, when the first Honda ATC's came about, as many as 1,350 fatalities were accounted for, and another 400,000 injuries across the US. When the court were made aware of the number of preventable injuries that could have been protected, the court Found Honda Motor Company guilty. read this San Diego article ... Link:  https://apnews.com/article/053ab3e05210b6dcea240edf0f157ef7     I've been watching these kinds of laws for many, many years, and, while I thoroughly support the men and women of LE, THEY have to take the steps necessary to cite, NOT warn violators, when they clearly witness motorists violating the law. The process of writing a signal citation takes only ten-minutes or less, so it's not time invasive and doesn't take a ton of officers in special enforcement more.  

 

When a cop testifies on the citation they written, it the law was violated, judges need to be aware that (in many states) SDMO laws have been around since 2006. The excuse that "I didn't know about the law" no longer hold's water based on to total number of highway workers killed. It's up to law enfocement to, 1) make the concentrated effort to write SDMO cites and to hold special enforcement events, and 2.) present a solid case in court that reflects data showing deaths caused by SDMO and 3.) present the court with a copy of the SDMO law from their state that shows when the law was enacted.          R.

Randall C. Resch

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Many officers I know would like more now than even to go after a violator. However, often it is just the two of use and that would mean leaving the tow truck operator exposed to another violator. At times there are two and there marked units on scene and if one cares he or she will break away and go after a blatant offender. Nearly half of those result in an arrest for a contributing factor such as DUI/OWI. Some have warrants or other legal issues, this is the reason officers so often these days ask someone if they have a warrant. Seriously a high number do have legal issues.

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