BILLINGS — The roads have been icy thanks to the recent frigid temperatures and snow and in these conditions, it’s important for drivers to reeducate themselves with the laws of the road — especially the Move Over Law.
There’s always been a Move Over Law in the state of Montana. But following the deaths of two Hanser’s Automotive employees last year, the law was changed to also protect tow truck drivers.
“They’ve also increased some of the fines for people that don’t slow down and move over and included the endangerment charge as well,” said Hanser’s Automotive dispatch supervisor Sara Hauorth.
The fine for a first offense of not slowing down or moving over for a vehicle jumped from $25 to $100 and is one of the highest fines in the country for a Move Over Law. Not slowing down or moving over for vehicles is considered to be reckless driving.
Even though the revised Move Over Law was enacted in October of this year, Hauorth believes it’s still falling on deaf ears.
“You would think that you know, the deaths of people would make a difference, but for some reason, it doesn’t hit home until somebody’s in that situation,” Hauorth said.
Many people are moving to Montana without familiarizing themselves with the law. Distractions like cell phones also play a part in accidents.
In the middle of winter, where perilous road conditions are on every corner, it’s harder to pump the brakes.
“With icy roads and stuff, it makes it 100 times worse,” Hauorth said.
Preparing for the worst is key in this kind of weather.
Hauorth urges drivers to keep an emergency kit in their cars at all times.
“It’s got jumper cables, it’s got some cones, it’s got a tow strap, a flashlight. It’s got a first aid kit,” said Hauorth.
She recommends bringing extra blankets, clothes, water, and snacks just in case drivers get stranded.
If that happens, pull over, put your hazards on, and take those cones out.
“Call someone. It’s best to call a tow company if you need a tow,” said Hauorth.
If you’re passing by a stopped vehicle on the side of the road, slow down and switch lanes. It could save a life.
Hauorth hopes that no one else has to go through what the employees at Hansen’s Automotive went through last year.
“The dispatcher that was on call that night and sent the drivers out, she feels a little responsible for it. It hit everybody really hard, you know, so I don’t know. It’s not a good situation,” Hauorth said.