Drivers training demise results in more laws

We realize drivers training is virtually a thing of the past. That indispensable instruction was cut from the public school system years ago.

The rules of the road are no longer taught hands on by a trained instructor. Most young drivers learn them from reading a booklet the Arizona Department of Transportation makes available to anyone wishing to obtain a driver’s license.

The lucky ones have parents who get them behind the wheel on a regular basis to reinforce everything they’ve read.

The really lucky ones have parents who weren’t only taught the rules of the road but were also taught road etiquette.

Those are the drivers who don’t need constant reminding about our “Move Over” law. They’ve been doing it since before the law was even conceived.

Arizona’s “Move Over” law has been in place since 2005. The original wording in the law required drivers to move over (if possible) into a farther lane from an emergency vehicle on the side of the road with its lights flashing. In situations where it was impossible to move over, the driver was required to slow down. The law was amended in 2011 to require drivers to move over (if possible, slow down if not) for any stationary vehicle on the side of the road with its lights flashing. That includes tow trucks, utility vehicles and passenger cars.

The amendment makes sense. The intent of the law was to protect the occupants of the vehicle on the side of the road. Anyone who’s ever had the pleasure of changing a tire on the side of the road with vehicles blowing by at 55, 65, 75 mph can appreciate the amendment. To call it scary is an understatement. Not only do they have to worry about getting hit by another vehicle while figuring out where to place the jack, but they also have to worry about getting struck by rocks, glass, metal, and any other debris picked up by car tires and shot out like shrapnel.

Yet we continually see drivers fly by these stationary vehicles without moving over or even slowing down.

Nationally, one tow truck driver is killed every six days; 23 highway workers and one law enforcement officer are killed every month; and five firefighters are killed every year while on the side of the road, according to ADOT.

Arizona is one of 49 states with move over laws on the books. It’s one of 40 states with move over laws that include all vehicles. It’s a shame so many states have had to pass a special law governing a topic that should have been covered in drivers training courses.

California recently passed a law banning drivers from even holding their cell phones while the car is running. Kudos, California! We’ve been campaigning for a statewide texting ban for years, and California hit a home run with its all-inclusive phone ban. Any cell phone use while driving distracts the driver. But that’s just one more example of a law that shouldn’t even be necessary. Distracted driving laws have been on the books for years. And driving instructors hit that topic especially hard.

Makes us wonder what would cost more: bringing back publicly funded drivers training courses or creating new laws to cover all the things nobody is taught anymore.

Incidentally, drivers who fail to comply with our “Move Over” law face penalties of $150 to $650.

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I haven't been to the MVD since 1999 and had no idea the "Move Over" law existed in AZ nor that it was revised.  Most states require re-testing or training on recurring basis, but AZ issues a Driver's License that expires on your 65th birthday.  How do they expect motorists to know about changes to the laws?

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