CBSDFW photo by Jay Gormley

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Nine years ago the state passed the Move Over/Slow Down law, for police cars, ambulances and fire trucks that are on the side of the road, with their lights flashing.

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But many drivers may not know that last September the law was expanded to include tow trucks. And Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) spokesman Tom Vinger says the law is being enforced

“Last year DPS issued more than 17,000 warnings and citations,” he said. “So far this year, through the first five months of the year, we’ve issued 6,000 warnings and citations.”

The law states, if possible, drivers should move out of the lane closest to the stopped vehicle. If traffic or other circumstances prevent the driver from changing lanes they should slow their speed to 20 miles an hour below the speed limit.

“It’s primarily trying to give extra protection to people on the side of the road, doing their job and the people who are on the roadside with them,” Vinger explained. “It’s [the roadside] a very dangerous place to be.”

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Anyone caught zooming by a designated vehicle faces the possibility of a range of punishments.

“It’s a traffic fine of up to $200, plus court costs,” Vinger said. “Punishment is more severe if there’s property damage; it becomes a Class C misdemeanor, with a higher fine. Jail time is possible if someone is injured.”

To remind drivers about the law for designated vehicles on roadsides, DPS has started a campaign focusing on the addition of tow trucks to the Move Over/Slow Down law.

This week the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) will activate electronic signs reading: If Tow Truck Stopped Ahead, Move Over or Slow Down, It’s The Law.

Vinger said ultimately it’s all about safety.

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