New Law: The Ambrose-Searles Move Over (when approaching an emergency vehicle) Act

Effective Jan 1, 2011, motorists will be required as per NYS VTL 1144a to “move over” or “slow down” when their vehicle is approaching an authorized emergency vehicle when its emergency lights are flashing and the emergency vehicle is parked on a highway or roadway in New York State.

This will be a two point violation if a driver in NY is convicted under the new law.

The NY State Senate’s justification for the law included the following points:

  • The law is for the protection of emergency personnel from motorists who have crashed their vehicles into police and emergency vehicles that were parked on highways or roadways in the performance of their duties
  • The momentum behind the law can be traced back to a March 11, 2003 New York State Senate investigation prompted by the death of New York State Trooper Robert Ambrose. Ambrose was fatally injured during a routine traffic stop on the New York State Thruway in Yonkers, New York.
  • Later in 2003, Onondaga County Deputy Sheriff Glenn M. Searles was assisting a motorist whose vehicle had gone off the highway when a second car lost control and struck Deputy Searles, fatally pinning him against his patrol car.
  • Motorists must be aware that the presence of a police or other emergency vehicle means not only a potential dangerous situation, but also that professional and volunteer emergency work may be under way.

Drivers should keep the following in mind:

  • Use particular caution when approaching an emergency vehicle that displays flashing emergency lighting.
  • On all roadways, drivers must reduce their speed when approaching the emergency vehicle.
  • On larger roadways (Parkways, Controlled Access Highways, roadways with multiple lanes) drivers must reduce speed and move from the lane immediately adjacent to the emergency vehicle as soon as it’s safe to do so.

We’ll keep an eye on how this is enforced during the upcoming months.