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Trooper’s death highlights importance of Mississippi’s ‘Move Over Law’

Following the tragic death of Mississippi Highway Patrol Trooper John Harris, public safety officials are reminding you about the existence of the state’s ‘Move Over Law.’

As a member of Mississippi’s motoring public, you have a responsibility to help keep law enforcement officers safe by heeding the law that mandates drivers slow down and change lanes (when possible) to give officers the space they need while conducting roadside traffic stops or investigating accidents.

“Upon approaching a stationary authorized emergency vehicle, when such vehicle is giving a signal by use of flashing, blinking, oscillating or rotating lights, as authorized under Section 63-7-19, a person who drives an approaching vehicle shall: 

(a) Proceeding with due caution, yield the right-of-way by making a lane change into a lane not adjacent to that of the authorized emergency vehicle, if possible with due regard to safety and traffic conditions, if on a roadway having at least four (4) lanes with not less than two (2) lanes proceeding in the same direction as the approaching vehicle.”

When changing lanes isn’t an option, the law states that you should, “proceeding with due caution, reduce the speed of the vehicle, maintaining a safe speed for road conditions and being prepared to stop.”

Trooper Harris was killed after being struck by a vehicle while conducting a traffic stop on Highway 16 in Madison County on Friday afternoon. 

“That’s why we have the ‘Move Over Law.’ Every single day, law enforcement officers encounter that. Good, responsible decisions by the public, not only ensure their safety and making it back home, but it also ensures the law enforcement officers in this state, and across the country, making it back home to their families as well,” Major Johnny Poulos said. 

Enacted in 2007, the law extends to all emergency vehicles, stationary recovery vehicles, utility service vehicles, sanitation vehicles, and highway maintenance vehicles. 

In addition to putting officers and workers at risk, violations of the law carry fines between $250-$1,000. 

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