Senate approves Zorn bill enhancing ‘move over’ law

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Wednesday approved Sen. Dale Zorn’s legislation that would require drivers to slow down and move over when approaching a vehicle with amber flashing lights, such as a utility vehicle or tow truck.

“The goal of this reform is to increase safety and save lives,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “Stopping on the side of a road or highway and getting out of a vehicle is dangerous and can be deadly. That is why Michigan already requires drivers to take safety precautions in construction areas and when passing a stopped police car or ambulance with their lights on.

“This bill would force drivers to take the same care around vehicles with amber flashing lights.”

Drivers in Michigan are currently required to move over a lane to the left if there is a stationary authorized emergency vehicle with flashing red, blue or white lights on the side of the road. If the road does not have a passing lane, or if moving over is impossible, then a driver shall pass with due care and caution at a reduced and safe speed. Violators can face up to 90 days in jail, a fine of up to $500 or both.

Senate Bill 477 would add vehicles with flashing amber lights to the current law and require drivers to slow down by a least 10 miles per hour when approaching and passing a stopped emergency vehicle.

Zorn said that in January a tow truck driver on I-94 near Ypsilanti was hit by a van while assisting a disabled vehicle. The tow truck was parked on the shoulder with its amber emergency lights on.

“Tow truck drivers should not have to risk serious injury or death when they are helping a stranded motorist on a highway,” Zorn said. “With this bill, Michigan will be sending a message to all drivers that if they see a vehicle ahead with flashing lights — whether it’s a police car, fire truck or tow truck — slow down and, if possible, move over.”

SB 477 has been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.