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December 29, 2006

For More Information, Contact:
Brock Winstead at (650)688-6384


SACRAMENTO – Effective January 1, 2007, a new state law will require drivers approaching a roadside emergency scene to move over one lane to create a safety buffer for emergency crews, or to slow down if they can’t move over safely.  Drivers who disobey the law risk receiving a $50 ticket.  The law, introduced as SB 1610 by State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), was signed by the Governor in September.

“This bill is about promoting highway safety, plain and simple,” said Simitian.  “I hope that it will put a stop to the senseless deaths of police officers, tow truck drivers, paramedics, and other emergency personnel who are simply helping stranded motorists.  And of course,” said Simitian, “the general public will be safer as well.”

Crashes claim the lives of more police personnel than any other cause of death in the line of duty, including shootings.  Thousands of injuries and accidents also result from a failure to move over or slow down while approaching the scene of an accident served by emergency personnel.

Thirty-seven other states have adopted similar “Move Over, Slow Down” laws, and have, as a
result, shown a decrease in the number of emergency vehicles struck by passing drivers.

SB 1610 was a reintroduction of one of the winning entries in Simitian’s 2005 ‘There Oughta Be A Law’ contest, which invites Californians to submit ideas for new state legislation.  Tow truck driver and Hayward resident Daniel Frederick Leon entered the contest after noticing that drivers who do not move over or slow down when approaching tow trucks or emergency crews endanger the lives of workers on the road and other motorists.

Simitian was disappointed last year by the Governor’s veto of SB 800, his “Move Over, Slow Down” measure introduced in 2005.  Just one day before the law would have gone into effect, a CHP officer was killed on Highway 17 near Santa Cruz as he helped a stranded motorist.  Simitian reintroduced the bill this year and asked the Governor’s office to work with him in crafting a bill the Governor would sign. 

“I’m excited and relieved that the Governor signed the bill,” said Daniel Frederick Leon, the tow truck driver who suggested the idea to Senator Simitian through the annual “There Oughta Be A Law” contest.  “I appreciate the hard work it took getting this through the legislature; and I look forward to helping to advise the public about the law so that we are all better protected.”

To learn more about SB 1610, visit