"If we're doing a short-term project, whether it's our maintenance crews stopped along the side of the highway to fix a sign or one of our survey crews doing some work, it's not practical to set up traffic control like we do for our large projects," said Joe O'Dell, SDDOT's safety coordinator. "In those situations, our crews turn on their amber flashing lights and hope motorists remember the Move Over law."
The Move Over law requires drivers traveling on an interstate or highway with more than two lanes to move over to the farthest lane of traffic when they come upon any stopped vehicle with flashing yellow lights. They should then proceed with caution. Drivers on two-lane highways must slow down to at least 20 mph below the posted speed limit and then proceed with caution. Several large signs along the interstate remind drivers of the law.
More than 30 states have a Move Over law on the books, with fines for breaking the law as high as $10,000. In South Dakota, violating the Move Over law can result in a $200 fine, but O'Dell says the real cost could be much more.
"What's the price of a life? The law was passed to protect law enforcement, emergency and highway workers. These people are doing important but dangerous work. When people don't slow down or move over, they are putting those lives in danger."
O'Dell says the next time you are traveling and see amber flashing lights ahead, be prepared to slow down or move over. A small action on your part can make a big difference.