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Slowing down for emergencies and traffic stops

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  • Slowing down for emergencies and traffic stops

    I drive 18-wheelers for a living. Sometimes I find myself unable to move left when someone is pulled over on the side of the interstate.

    Well, obviously I know that I am supposed to slow down, by law. But how much?

    One time I was driving up I35 towards Dallas and I passed 3 traffic stops where I couldn't get over in time, so I slowed down. But I was wondering how much of a slow down are you looking for?

  • #2
    What does the applicable Texas statute provide?

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    • #3
      Is there a specific number or is every state different? I drive all the lower 48 states. My residence is in TX but don't drive TX much. I drive way up in Detroit more than my home state.

      In Texas I think it's 20 miles per hour slow down is what is asked. But I was just wondering if LEOs felt that wasn't enough or if less is fine. There's other laws I have to remember for different states.

      Ya'll are the first responders, so I'm just asking for your expertise, anyone that has a few minutes that willing to weigh in. I know people die on the side of the road. But I don't respond to the accidents, I just drive past them.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Dumb driver View Post
        In Texas I think it's 20 miles per hour slow down is what is asked. But I was just wondering if LEOs felt that wasn't enough or if less is fine. There's other laws I have to remember for different states.
        We enforce the law, not our personal opinions.

        That said, I’m just happy when I don’t get flipped off or run over...
        "I am a Soldier. I fight where I'm told and I win where I fight." -- GEN George S. Patton, Jr.

        "With a brother on my left and a sister on my right, we face…. We face what no one should face. We face, so no one else would face. We are in the face of Death." -- Holli Peet

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        • #5
          Originally posted by tanksoldier View Post

          We enforce the law, not our personal opinions.

          That said, I’m just happy when I don’t get flipped off or run over...

          Yeah, I get that. I get flipped off a lot too. I'm just trying to learn as much as I can, have the best perspective on things.

          My question may not have a clear answer, but thought I would ask since it's in my power to do so.

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          • #6
            Keep in mind that Texas Traffic Code 545.051 and 545.053 basically state that (with few exceptions) you need to stay in the right lane unless you're passing someone.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Dumb driver View Post
              Is there a specific number or is every state different? I drive all the lower 48 states. My residence is in TX but don't drive TX much. I drive way up in Detroit more than my home state.

              In Texas I think it's 20 miles per hour slow down is what is asked. But I was just wondering if LEOs felt that wasn't enough or if less is fine. There's other laws I have to remember for different states.

              Ya'll are the first responders, so I'm just asking for your expertise, anyone that has a few minutes that willing to weigh in. I know people die on the side of the road. But I don't respond to the accidents, I just drive past them.
              I assume by "20 miles per hour slow down" you mean 20 mph below the posted speed limit (as opposed to 20mph slower than you are currently going)? If so, that's actually pretty specific, so you'd be well-advised to slow down to AT LEAST 20mph below the speed limit. If the situation requires, you may have to slow down even more.

              I suspect that most states have some version of a "move over" law, but the exact wording and requirements may vary. In New Jersey, you're required to move over. If unable to do so, you must slow down to a "reasonable" speed for the road and traffic conditions and be "prepared to stop". The speed must be below the posted speed limit, but unlike Texas, the law does not specify how much below. It's somewhat subjective and requires a judgment call on the driver's part. Being "prepared to stop" is also somewhat ambiguous. Being willing to stop and actually being able to stop in time might be two different things depending on the circumstances. If a car passes a stationary emergency vehicle in a 30 mph zone, the expectation would be to slow down enough where the driver could actually STOP if so directed by the officer. For an 18-wheeler on the interstate, that's just not practical.

              There really is no size fits all answer because there are so many different factors involved including road condition, weather condition, traffic, road layout, vehicle type, nature of the incident that brought the emergency vehicle (or vehicles) there in the first place. As a general rule, I'd expect you to slow down even more if the officer is in the process of getting out of or returning to their vehicle, or if other persons are near the roadway.

              Bottom line is be alert, use common sense, and do what is necessary to reduce risks. Most officers aren't out to ticket you as long as you make a clear and deliberate attempt to comply with the law. Just don't kill us or zoom by fast enough to blow our hats off. After all, everyone knows that we can't write tickets without our hat on...



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              • #8
                Originally posted by Aidokea View Post
                Keep in mind that Texas Traffic Code 545.051 and 545.053 basically state that (with few exceptions) you need to stay in the right lane unless you're passing someone.
                How is this pertinent to the OP's scenario? Are you encouraging him to ignore the move over law and stay in the right lane while passing a stopped emergency vehicle?

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                • #9
                  It becomes a "reasonable & proper" situations in most of the Move Over Laws I have read

                  Just slow down from the posted speed limit and MOST cops are going to see that as compliance

                  Originally posted by not.in.MY.town View Post
                  Just don't kill us or zoom by fast enough to blow our hats off. After all, everyone knows that we can't write tickets without our hat on...


                  ONLY if you are a trooper
                  Last edited by Iowa #1603; 03-11-2021, 12:28 PM.
                  Since some people need to be told by notes in crayon .......Don't PM me with without prior permission. If you can't discuss the situation in the open forum ----it must not be that important

                  My new word for the day is FOCUS, when someone irritates you tell them to FOCUS

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                  • #10
                    Flip the script and imagine yourself on the white line next to a suspect vehicle performing a traffic stop with 20 tons of semi truck barreling down the road at you at highway speeds and ask yourself what speed you feel comfortable with.

                    I have written ALOT of Scott's law tickets in Illinois.

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                    • Aidokea
                      Aidokea commented
                      Editing a comment
                      God bless you, young man...

                  • #11
                    To the OP this is a very pertinent question. Before LE I originally drove straight trucks in the city so never had to deal with this. In LE I worked in a municipality so I don't have a lot of highway enforcement nor learned those specific laws when I went through the academy. I did start pulling a RV travel trailer with family on interstate and that is when I first really notice the practice of pulling into the left lane so I just followed. Now (retired) I am now starting back into transportation driving semis locally with a few highway jaunts and as the OP states I can't always get into the left lane.

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