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Fuel for Thought

OR - A Small Word With Big Consequences

By Greg Huggins
Posted Jul 3rd 2019 11:06PM

Or. A simple little word, yet these two little letters can have big consequences. Or gives you an option. Or is not synonymous with ‘and’. It is synonymous with ‘either’. Or gives you a choice, pick one or the other, not both. For some context, water or milk, diesel or gasoline, drive or park, sit or stand. Move over or slow down.

Move over OR slow down. Pick one, not both.

All fifty U.S. states have passed a Move Over law. 

The laws require drivers, upon noticing either emergency vehicle with sirens and/or flashing lights, to move away from the vehicle by one lane, or if that is not possible, slow down to either a reasonable speed or a fixed speed below the limit as defined by local law. This includes law enforcement vehicles, fire trucks and ambulances. Many states have expanded their Move Over laws to also include tow trucks, roadside repair trucks, construction or maintenance vehicles and utility trucks. Thus any vehicles with flashing lights along the roadside.

Notice the use of the word OR. 

The laws do NOT state that you should move over AND slow down. This action will only make it more difficult for others to move over and ultimately forces more vehicles to slow down but not be able to give way to the emergency vehicle and personnel working roadside. 

If you are going to slow down for roadside emergency personnel, stay in the lane. Moving over AND slowing down creates a small slow rolling traffic jam in exactly the worst place possible - alongside the emergency vehicles.

Obviously, when conditions warrant, you should move over and slow down, such as when emergency responders are IN/ON the roadway working in the travel lanes.

When all the activity is on the roadside (out of the travel lanes but on the shoulder of the road), move over, if possible, OR slow down and be aware of the activity on the shoulder.

When you see the flashing lights ahead, consider your surroundings and plan accordingly. Make a decision and pick one and only one. 

Move over OR slow down.

See you down the road,