‘Move Over’ law: It can save the lives of those tasked to save yours

Video of a crash caught on a Honolulu police officer’s body camera has first responders reminding drivers to move over and give them space while they work.

Luckily the officers on the scene of that crash were not injured, but they’re not the only ones drivers need to watch out for.

The footage is scary to watch.

Video of the crash in November on the H-1 Freeway was just released in late December, but it brings back painful memories for retired HPD Major Kurt Kendro.

“As a police officer it was very personal. I was at the scene when Officer Davis was killed, I was at the scene when Officer Fontes was killed,” Kendro said.

Kendro helped craft the “Move Over” law after HPD officers Garrett Davis and Eric Fontes were killed while on duty in separate incidents.

We’re told Davis was helping a stranded motorist, and Fontes was conducting a traffic stop.

“Every police officer will have a story, or every firefighter, or every EMS person will have a story about people that don’t give them any room,” Kendro said.

The law states if an emergency vehicle is stopped and lights are flashing, drivers are required to move to the adjacent lane. If you can’t move over, drivers are required to slow down to a reasonable speed.

According to the law, an emergency vehicle means police, fire, EMS, Ocean Safety, Freeway Service Patrol, and tow trucks. It also includes some state and county vehicles.

Kendro now works for the Freeway Service Patrol. He told KHON2 they get about 1,200 calls for assistance each month and the number of near misses has been too many to count.

“Actual side swipes of vehicles, we’ve had operators that were hit by passing cars,” Kendro said. “You’d think we could drive with aloha and you wouldn’t need the law but we need that law.”

Hawaii was the last state to pass this law that went into effect in the islands in July 2012.

We reached out to Honolulu EMS who said drivers not giving enough space is always a concern. They ran a PSA on the issue a few years ago.

If a driver injures or kills a person as a result of not moving over, they could face negligent homicide or negligent injury charges.

“Think about if you’re the motorist and think about if you’re working on that shoulder, how fast would you want cars passing you,” Kendro said.

The “Move Over” law isn’t just for highways. Drivers are still required to move over or slow down for emergency vehicles on surface streets, too.

According to Hawaii’s traffic code, “(a) Except as otherwise provided by county ordinance, upon the immediate approach of an authorized emergency vehicle making use of audible and visual signals, the driver of every other vehicle shall yield the right-of-way and shall immediately drive to a position clear of any intersection and parallel to, and as close as possible to, the right hand edge or curb of the highway or the nearest edge or curb when the highway has multiple lanes or when the highway is a divided highway or one-way street and shall stop and remain in such position until the authorized emergency vehicle is passed, except as otherwise directed by a police officer.

(b) This section shall not operate to relieve the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons using the highway.”

Violators are required to pay a $97 fine.

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