HARRISBURG – Legislation sponsored by State Senator Doug Mastriano (R-33), State Senator Kim Ward (R-39) and Senator John DiSanto (R-15) to strengthen the state “Steer Clear Law” and better protect tow truck drivers, law enforcement and other first responders is set for enactment following unanimous passage by the General Assembly.
In addition to adding stiffer penalties and raising public awareness, Senate Bill 1281 would rebrand the “Steer Clear Law” as the “Move Over Law” to clarify how motorists should react when approaching or passing an emergency response area. Examples of an emergency response area are when a police officer is conducting a routine traffic stop or when a tow truck operator is helping with a disabled vehicle.
“We took action after our first responders, and the grim statistics, showed that we have a problem in Pennsylvania in putting these committed men and women at unnecessary risk, in jobs that are already risky,” said Mastriano. “Enactment of this bill, with new penalties and a new name, will send the message: move over.”
“Our first responders risk their lives every day when answering calls on our roadways,” said Ward, who chairs the Senate Transportation Committee. “The unanimous passage of this bill should send a clear message to all motorists to ‘Move Over’ and slow down for the safety and protection of our first responders.”
“Locally, we suffered the tragic loss of Tyler Laudenslager of Halifax when, as a tow truck operator, he was struck while responding to a disabled vehicle,” said DiSanto. “No family should have to experience the avoidable death of a loved one like this, and today’s action by the legislature, coming exactly three months since Tyler’s untimely death, is a tribute to his memory that will help avoid future tragedies.”
There are more than 350 reportable traffic crashes in Pennsylvania every day that put first responders in harm’s way. Already in 2020, 40 first responders have been killed nationwide while working roadside incidents: 16 law enforcement, 17 tow truck operators, 1 mobile mechanic, 3 fire/EMS personnel and 3 Safety Service Patrol Operators. Unfortunately, these numbers include two Pennsylvania first responders, Tow Operator/Firefighter Tyler Laudenslager and Paramedic Matt Smelser.
Senate Bill 1281 would establish a new point system for a “Move Over” violation; double the fines for a summary offense; strengthen public awareness by requiring PennDOT to educate the public throughout the year; and implement new requirements for drivers approaching an emergency response area.
According to PA State Police, 7,075 citations were issued in 2018-2019 for Steer Clear/Move Over violations, in addition to 3,204 warnings.
Passage of Senate Bill 1281 came one month after the senators joined first responders for a rally outside the Capitol to urge enactment of the “Move Over Law.” The bill was sent to the governor today for enactment.
CONTACTS: Levi Clevenger, Senator Mastriano’s Office, firstname.lastname@example.org
Nolan Ritchie, Senator Kim Ward’s Office, email@example.com
Chuck Erdman, Senator DiSanto’s Office, firstname.lastname@example.org