QUESTION: I've heard that California has a new law called "Move Over, Slow Down," that requires freeway drivers to change lanes or slow down when approaching a stopped emergency vehicle. If this is true, can you provide a more detailed description of the law?
I'm curious how slow is slow enough on the freeway and would it be the same speed when driving a truck and trailer or a car (since they have different max speed limits)?
Answer: Thank you for bringing attention to this very important law which very few people seem to be aware of, Barbara. The law, which is designed to reduce death and injury among roadside emergency workers and stranded motorists, stipulates that drivers move over or slow down when approaching an emergency vehicle with its lights flashing while stopped by the side of the road.
Specifically, this means that whenever drivers approach police, fire or tow trucks that are stopped on the side of the road with their amber lights flashing, they should slow down and draw near the scene at a cautious speed - and if possible and safe, move into the lane over from the incident.
No specific speed requirement is stated in the law.
According to the Automobile Association of California, each year approximately 200 people are killed in roadside crashes and another 800 injuries occur among motorists in highway work zones or in locations where motorists are being attended to.
While the "slow down, move over" maneuver has long been practiced by professional drivers, the law now makes this a requirement for all drivers - which, if violated, is punishable with a citation and a $50.00 fine.
Reader Vanity Plate Submission: In light of Ms. Knutson's important query, I felt the following personalized plate might be appropriate. Submitted by Micheal C., who spotted the plate surrounded by a frame which indicated that the driver was a firefighter: I RSQ U (I rescue you.)
Q: Is it true that San Francisco has a law on the books that says it is illegal to wipe your car with used underwear?
Chris Carneke, Rialto
A: Not exactly, Chris. If you wanted to wipe your car with used underwear in San Francisco, you would not be breaking any municipal law. However, if you gave cast-off underclothing that had not been properly sterilized to an employee for the purpose of wiping off any vehicles, in any type of a business setting, you would be in violation of San Francisco law.
In addition, providing employees with your preworn skivvies - for any purpose - would undoubtedly knock you out of the running for that "Employer of the Year" award.
Michelle Groh-Gordy is the owner of InterActive! Traffic School Online at www.trafficinteractive.com , and writes a syndicated weekly column on driving for the publications of the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.