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Drivers following ‘move over’ law

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Drivers in San Mateo County and San Francisco are more apt to yield to emergency vehicles than drivers in the rest of the state, which helped a trial law become permanent this year.

The Move Over, Slow Down law became permanent Jan. 1 and calls on drivers to make way for emergency vehicles with lights or sirens on, or face a $50 fine. The law was enacted in 2007 and was amended this year to include Caltrans vehicles.

“Recognizing most of them shouldn’t be too difficult,” Caltrans spokesman Bob Haus said of his agency’s vehicles. “They are still orange and they have our logo on the side.”

Senate Bill 240 says vehicles should “make a lane change into an available lane not immediately adjacent to the authorized emergency vehicle, tow truck or Department of Transportation vehicle, with due regard for safety and traffic conditions.”

Caltrans has lost 174 of its employees since 1924 in the line of duty. This new law is supposed to help employees feel safer and drivers be more aware of their surroundings, Caltrans spokesman Matt Rocco said.

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“When you see flashing lights, just try to move over a lane,” Rocco said. “But the key thing is to move over if it’s safe.”

Motorists in San Francisco and San Mateo County are not as guilty of remaining in the way as other drivers across the state.

In 2008, not a single driver in either area was ticketed for a violation. However, 205 drivers were ticketed statewide, according to the California Highway Patrol.

In 2009, two drivers were ticketed in The City and four were ticketed in San Mateo County, while 40 were ticketed in the Bay Area and 361 were ticketed statewide, according to the CHP.

Numbers regarding how many times drivers have been ticketed this year were not available.

Make way or face fine

0: People in San Francisco and San Mateo County ticketed for not yielding to emergency vehicles in 2008
205: Californians ticketed for not yielding in 2008
6: People in San Francisco and San Mateo County ticketed for not yielding in 2009
361: Californians ticketed for not yielding in 2009

Source: CHP

kkelkar@sfexaminer.com

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