Today marks the 16th anniversary of the death of Minnesota State Trooper Ted Foss, who was killed on August 31, 2000 when he was struck by a passing semitrailer while interacting with a driver he had recently pulled over for speeding. Foss was struck by the truck and died at the scene shortly thereafter.
Out of his death came the Ted Foss Move Over Law, which requires all passing motorists on roads with two or more lanes going in the same direction to move at least one full lane away from stopped emergency vehicles that have their lights on. Vehicles this would apply to include:
- Police vehicles
- Fire trucks
- Construction vehicles
- Tow trucks
If a driver cannot safely move over at least one lane, they are required to slow down and they should be very careful when approaching and passing the parked vehicles.
Enforcement Under Way
Minnesota police will be out enforcing the law today and over the next few weeks to help keep emergency personnel safe and to inform people about the law.
“This law is about keeping public safety crews safe,” said Plymouth Police Officer Scott Kirchner. “Motorists must move over when they see flashing lights on the shoulder – including those belonging to first responders and paramedics, tow vehicles, law enforcement, firefighters and construction crews.”
Since the law went into effect in 2001, no Minnesota troopers have been killed by passing vehicles. That’s not to say that accidents haven’t happened, however. In 2014, 30 Minnesota State Patrol squad cars were hit while parked on the roadsides. Of those 30 accidents, four resulted in injuries to the trooper in the vehicle. During the same year, police issued 816 citations and 2,467 warnings to motorists who failed to move over for a parked emergency vehicle with active flashing lights.
Failing to move over or yield to an emergency responder can result in a fine of more than $100, so keep that in mind the next time you see a parked police vehicle on the side of the road. Not only can you save some money by moving over, but you may be avoiding a terrible tragedy.