New traffic laws: teens, tow trucks and road crews now included

By Melissa Correa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) – If you spot the amber lights or the usual red and blues while on the road- move over. An updated law takes effect July 1 and it allows law enforcement to ticket any driver who doesn't give road or emergency crews enough room.

With multi-ton pieces of metal zooming by at high speeds, working the road is a dangerous job that's about to get a little safer. The 'Move Over' law took effect in 2002. During a press conference Tuesday, we've learned it's getting updated this July.

"The law now mandates that motorists approaching a tow truck or highway maintenance vehicle displaying amber lights change lanes and move over from those flashing lights – if possible," said Martha Meade, AAA spokesperson.

This is in addition to emergency vehicles from fire trucks to motorcycles.

"If they can safely do so we encourage folks to give a lane of traffic between road crews or emergency response crews," said VDOT spokesperson Jeff Caldwell. "And if not, we just ask folks to just slow down and use extreme caution. Because these people are risking their lives to help out motorists every day."

Another existing law - the seatbelt law - will now require 16 and 17 year olds to buckle up, whether in the front or back seat.

"Here in Richmond, we've seen the impact of unbelted teenagers who were smiling one day- excited about their future, only to be killed," said Meade.

Just a few days ago, a teenage boy, who wasn't wearing his seatbelt, died in a crash in Hanover County- just a day before his graduation.

Last year, 7 VDOT workers were killed on Virginia roads. Representatives from AAA, state police and VDOT say these updated laws will save lives. And enforcement will be stiff. Violators will be cited.

"Make sure everyone gets home safely at the end of the day. Thank you," Caldwell said.

Beginning next Thursday, law enforcement throughout the commonwealth will begin ticketing folks who violate the new 'Move Over' and seatbelt laws.

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