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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Drivers Ignoring WI's "Move Over" Law

Hopefully, the story will bring some attention to the problem! Here's the northwestern.com article:
Sean Klessig of Fond du Lac gets nervous every time he hooks up a disabled vehicle on the side of the road as traffic whizzes by on Highway 41.

And when people do not obey the state’s 2001 Move Over Law, the man with 14 years of towing experience thinks of a deadly statistic that is growing across the country.

"I read articles in towing magazines on how a driver was struck and killed on the side of the highway while doing his job because someone didn’t obey traffic laws," said Klessig of Whealon Towing. "I’m glad I’ve never had to experience that at the towing companies I’ve worked with. I just have a feeling it is going to happen. I don’t want to be in a funeral procession because of an idiotic driver."

A lot of local publicity was given to the law in 2003 when Fond du Lac County Highway Department worker Dennis Roeseler was killed on Highway 41 while working within a highway work zone. Two Winnebago County highway workers were killed in March 2006 while working on Highway 41 shoulder repairs.

Authorities say it is an all too common occurrence for vehicles to speed past highway workers doing road maintenance.

The Move Over Law requires drivers to shift lanes or slow down to provide a "safety zone" for a squad car, ambulance, fire truck, tow truck or highway maintenance vehicle that is stopped on the side of a road with its warning lights flashing, according to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

"On 41 you sometimes cannot move over. You have to slow down to a reasonable, safe speed," said Fond du Lac County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Dean Will. "… What is reasonable is at the discretion of the officer. In a 65 mph zone, a reasonable speed could be between 30 and 40."

A first violation of the law will cost drivers $175.30 and three demerit points on a driver’s license. A second offense within one year will knock off an additional three points and cost $213.10, said Will.

On Sept. 18, Klessig saw a violation that he found disturbing as he was retrieving a vehicle on Highway 41, north of Military Road.

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