Move-over, seatbelt laws take effect this weekend
Published 3:24 am Wednesday, June 28, 2006
By By LISA TINDELL – News reporter
Motorists will have a couple of new laws to remember as they travel throughout the state, according to the Alabama Department of Public Safety.
On July 1, two new laws will take effect that have been put into place for the safety of vehicle occupants and emergency personnel.
The “move-over” law requires motorists to change into a lane not adjacent to an authorized emergency vehicle that has stopped to assist motorists or pedestrians along a public highway.
The law stipulates that anytime an emergency vehicle is stopped and is displaying flashing emergency lights, motorists should move over one lane when approaching the emergency scene.
The law further states that when changing lanes is unsafe or not possible, motorists should instead slow down and maintain a safe speed for the road conditions.
“Alabama state troopers and other emergency responders routinely stop their vehicles roadside, and that makes them especially vulnerable,” said Col. Mike Coppage, director of the Alabama Department of Public Safety. “Changing lanes when possible, or slowing down and proceeding with caution, provides an extra measure of safety to law enforcement officers and other emergency responders.”
The new law presented as Act 2006-546 was passed during the regular session of the Legislature and becomes effective July 1. The law's “move-over” provision applies to roadways with four or more lanes, with at least two lanes proceeding in the same direction as the vehicle being approached.
Another law that will become effective on July 1 is one involving the restraint of motor vehicle occupants. According to a release from the Alabama Department of Public Safety beginning July 1, children through age 14 must be restrained when riding in motor vehicles in Alabama, under provisions of the state's new child restraint law.
The new law applies to passenger cars, pickup trucks, vans (with seating capacity of 10 or fewer), minivans and sport utility vehicles.
The child restraint law previously in place, was amended during the 2006 regular session of the Alabama Legislature to specify appropriate restraint systems by child age and weight. The new law also provides that violators will have points assessed against their driver record, in addition to incurring a fine of $25.
Coppage said using the proper restraint and installing it properly are vital to protecting the safety of child passengers.
The law requires the following size-appropriate restraint systems:
Infant-only seats and convertible seats used in the rear-facing position for infants until at least 1 year of age or 20 pounds
Convertible seats in the forward position or forward-facing seats until the child is at least 5 years of age or 40 pounds.
Booster seats until the child is 6 years of age.
Seat belts until the child is 15 years of age.
Alabama's current seat belt law requires that all front-seat occupants, regardless of age, be restrained.
Alabama's old child restraint law required an “appropriate child restraint system” for children age 5 and younger riding in motor vehicles registered in Alabama, with seat belts allowed beginning at age 4. The old law also excluded trucks and buses with a tonnage rating of one ton or more.
If you need assistance in proper installation of child restraint devices, the Alabama Department of Public Safety has a website that can help. Visit www.dps.state.al.us. for information on contacting public information/education officers qualified to assist with proper installation of child safety restraints.